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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI)

Mailing Address: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, VA 22630

Communications Office call(202) 633-3055

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute serves as an umbrella for the Smithsonian Institution’s global effort to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.

Front Royal Facility Overview

  • The 3,200-acre facility is located just outside the historic town of Front Royal, Virginia.
  • Until 2010, the facility was called the Conservation and Research Center.
  • Currently, SCBI-FR's collection of animals stands at more than 400 individuals, including 17 mammalian and 15 avian species.
  • The U.S. Army owned the land in the early 1900s and used it to develop a large facility for breeding and training horses and mules for the U.S. Calvary Remount Service.
  • In 1948, the land assets of the Remount Service were transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As part of this transaction, the Remount Depot became a Beef Cattle Research Station of the USDA. Fields that once had been home to thousands of cavalry mounts were occupied by Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn cattle.
  • In addition to USDA functions, the Department of State used a portion of the Center's facilities as an Emergency Relocation site and a communications station. The USDA closed the station in 1973 leaving the site temporarily vacant.
  • The Conservation and Research Center was founded in 1974 when the director of the National Zoo, Dr. Theodore Reed, recognized the need for a captive breeding facility and initiated negotiations to obtain the land. The title was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1975, and work was begun immediately on developing the site into a zoological research facility.
  • In 2008, the Smithsonian and George Mason University joined together to pilot a “Smithsonian-Mason Semester in Conservation Studies” on the Front Royal site.

Science Overview

  • SCBI has played a leading role in the fields of veterinary medicine, reproductive physiology and conservation biology since its founding in 1974.
  • SCBI consists of six centers of excellence: the Center for Conservation Ecology, Center for Species Survival, Center for Conservation & Evolutionary Genetics; Migratory Bird Center; Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability; Center for Animal Care Sciences. These centers include a genetics lab; an endocrinology lab; a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) lab; the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory; two veterinary hospitals; a pathology lab; banks of frozen specimens; forest plots for local, and national and global ecological studies.
  • SCBI scientists work in 25 countries, including at sites in Hawaii, Panama, Peru, Gabon, Namibia, Botswana, Thailand, Malaysia, Mongolia, China, India and Jamaica, among others.
  • SCBI employs more than 220 individuals, including more than 50 PhDs and veterinarians with expertise in ecology, biology, zoology, genetics, veterinary science, reproductive physiology, forestry, global change science, wildlife and other scientific disciplines.
  • SCBI is a key player in a number of major conservation partnerships , including the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, the Global Tiger Initiative, the Conservation Centers for Species Survival, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the Sahara Conservation Fund, and many others
  • Each year, SCBI researchers collectively produce more than 125 scientific publications, as well as publications for popular audiences on their scientific results.  Their work has been published in scientific publications such as Nature, Science, Biological Conservation, PLoS ONE, Molecular Reproduction & Development, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Animal Conservation, Conservation Genetics, Molecular Biology and many others.