Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



News Archive

December 2014

Scientists Offer New Insights for Protecting India’s Tiger Populations
Researchers have learned that despite strong global support for tiger conservation, the survival of the species continues to be threatened. Habitat loss, poaching and isolation are all factors leading to population decline, but a team of scientists, including Robert Fleischer and Jesus Maldonado from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Bibek Yumnam and Yadvendradev Jhala of the Wildlife Institute of India, is working towards understanding limitations and enhancing the current conservation system.

November 2014

Andean Bear Cubs Born at the National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo is celebrating the birth of two Andean bear cubs born to 8-year-old Billie Jean Nov. 10 and 11.

October 2014

Dr. Donald Neiffer Named Chief Veterinarian at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Dr. Donald Neiffer has been named chief veterinarian of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., effective Oct. 20. Neiffer most recently worked as head veterinarian at The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio. Previous to that, he was the veterinary operations manager for Walt Disney World’s Animal Programs in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. beginning November 1998.
Photo Release: Two North American Porcupines on Exhibit at the National Zoo
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo recently welcomed the newest member of its zoological family: the North American Porcupine. Two adult porcupines named Quillby and Maude are now on exhibit adjacent to the prairie dog exhibit.
Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee Discovered
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Researchers Find Rare Bee Thought Headed for Extinction

September 2014

Media Advisory: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to Host Annual Autumn Conservation Festival and Free Lecture Series
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., is opening its doors—usually closed to the public—for special opportunities in October. The month kicks off with the Autumn Conservation Festival Saturday, Oct. 4, and Sunday, Oct. 5.
Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park Dennis Kelly Now Vice Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Board of Directors
The membership of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has elected Dennis Kelly, Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, to the position of Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.
“State of the Birds” Report Assesses the Health of the Nation’s Birds
One hundred years after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the nation’s top bird science and conservation groups have come together to publish The State of the Birds 2014—the most comprehensive review of long-term trend data for U.S. birds ever conducted. The authors call the results unsettling. The report finds bird populations declining across several key habitats, and it includes a “watch list” of bird species in need of immediate conservation help. The report also reveals, however, that in areas where a strong conservation investment has been made, bird populations are recovering.

August 2014

National Zoo Opens American Bison Exhibit in Honor of 125th Anniversary
In honor of its 125th anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is once again home to American bison, the animal that began the Zoo’s living collection in 1889 and sparked the conservation movement. The American Bison exhibit, sponsored by Continental Building Products, opens to the public Saturday, Aug. 30.
Media Advisory: National Zoo to Announce Names of American Bison
Media preview and name reveal of the National Zoo’s two female American bison. The American Bison Exhibit opens to the public Aug. 30 .
Smithsonian's National Zoo Celebrates Giant Panda Bao Bao's First Birthday
The National Zoo and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China celebrated giant panda cub Bao Bao’s first birthday this morning with a Zhuazhou (dra-JO) ceremony.
Red Panda Dies at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
A female red panda, Shama, was euthanized at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., Saturday, Aug. 16. A necropsy performed later that evening revealed severe cerebral edema (swelling of the brain). Based on preliminary cytology, the swelling is attributed to encephalitis associated with a microscopic parasite.

July 2014

Smithsonian & SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project Launched
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the SVF Foundation announced July 23 the launch of the "Smithsonian & SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project" to strengthen rare and endangered livestock breed conservation through the preservation and study of frozen germplasm (semen and embryos), cell lines and other biomaterials from rare heritage breeds of food and fiber livestock.
National Zoo Humanely Euthanizes Elderly Macaque
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo humanely euthanized its last Sulawesi macaque, a 27-year-old male named Spock, this morning. The median lifespan for this species is about 18 years.
Four Litters of Red Panda Cubs Born at SCBI
All four red panda pairs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., successfully bred and had cubs this year. Of the 10 cubs, more born at SCBI than any other year, seven have survived.

June 2014

Public Debut of Asian Elephants Maharani, Kamala and Swarna on Elephant Trails at Smithsonian's National Zoo
The National Zoo’s three new female Asian elephants—Kamala (39), Swarna (39) and Maharani (23)—made their public debut in one of the outdoor yards on Elephant Trails for the first time Monday, June 23. After arriving at the Zoo May 23, the elephants spent 30 days in quarantine per standard procedure. On loan from the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, they will join the Zoo’s herd of four Asian elephants: females Ambika (66), Shanthi (39), Bozie (38) and male Kandula (12).
Update - Invertebrate Exhibit
Thank you for expressing your appreciation for the National Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit and your concern about its closing. We value your feedback and would like to clarify why we have made this very difficult decision.
Media Advisory: Public Debut of Asian Elephants Kamala, Swarna, and Maharani
The National Zoo's new three female elephants will be out of quarantine and will have their public debut outside for the first time Monday, June 23.
National Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit To Close June 22
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Invertebrate Exhibit, home to dozens of small aquatic and terrestrial species without backbones, will close to the public Sunday, June 22. The last day to visit the Invertebrate House is Saturday, June 21.
Photo Release: Photo Release: African Lion Cubs Debut at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
The four youngest members of the African lion pride at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo are making their public debut today at noon at the Great Cats Exhibit. Born March 2 to mother Shera and father Luke, the 14-week-old cubs passed their swim test in May and have received all their vaccinations. They will join their mother, aunt Nababiep, and two female half-siblings on exhibit weather permitting.
Endangered Species Baby Boom at National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute celebrated several births recently. During the past several weeks 31 new residents have been born, many of which were endangered species.

May 2014

Three Female Elephants from Calgary Zoo Arrived Safely at the National Zoo
Asian elephants Kamala (39), Swarna (39) and Maharani (23) arrived safely at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo at 10:55 a.m. They are on loan from the Calgary Zoo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and will join the Zoo’s herd of four Asian elephants Ambika (66), Shanthi (39), Bozie (38) and Kandula (12).
Free Symposium: “Celebrating 125 Years at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo: How Ted Reed Envisioned the Modern Zoo”
Free public symposium celebrates the late Dr. Theodore Reed, his vision and lasting legacy for the modern zoo. There will also be a daytime academic symposium on May 21 that is open to the public from 1p.m. to 5p.m. Details on both these events are on the National Zoo’s website (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/events/).
Media Alert: Smithsonian's National Zoo to Hold #ZooMeet as Part of Worldwide InstaMeet Day May 17 and May 18
As part of the Worldwide InstaMeet and the National Zoo’s ongoing 125th anniversary celebration, the Zoo invites Instagrammers from across the Washington, D.C., region to help create a digital “weekend in the life of the Zoo” portrait all day Saturday, May 17, and Sunday, May 18. Instagrammers should post their photos to Instagram and tag @SmithsonianZoo using the hashtags #ZooMeet and #WWIM9. The Zoo will select images and Instavideos to post and share through its social channels and website.
Portugal. The Man Performs the #EndangeredSong "Sumatran Tiger" at the National Zoo
The #EndangeredSong campaign continued this evening at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo with a free stripped-down concert by Portugal. The Man. It was the first time the band had performed the #EndangeredSong, titled “Sumatran Tiger,” for a live audience. The song will become part of their set list for the remainder of this tour.
Media Advisory: Free Portgual. The Man Concert at National Zoo
Portgual. The Man will perform a free stripped down concert at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo as part of the #EndangeredSong campaign. Guests can register via Eventbrite.com.
National Zoo's African Lion Cubs Pass Swim Reliability Test and Explore Their Yard
Four African lion cubs took a brisk paddle at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo today and passed their swim reliability test. The cubs—three males and one female—were born at the Zoo March 2. All cubs born at the Great Cats exhibit must undergo the swim reliability test and prove that they are ready to be on exhibit. All four cats were able to keep their heads above water, navigate to the shallow end of the moat and climb onto dry land.
Media Advisory: National Zoo’s Lion Cubs to Take Swim Reliability Test and Explore Their Yard
Four 9-week-old African lion cubs will take a swim reliability test (weather permitting) prior to their public debut in June. Following the swim test, two 14-week-old lion cubs will venture into a nearby exhibit as part of their yard introduction process. The older litter will debut to the public May 9.

April 2014

Male Kiwi Dies at National Zoo
A six-year-old male brown kiwi named Koa died during the weekend at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo Launches Endangered Song Project
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and National Zoo announced today, Earth Day, the launch of the Endangered Song Project, an analog-meets-digital awareness campaign that calls upon 400 participants to use their social media strength to spread the message that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild.
National Zoo’s Bear Cub and Seal Pup Are Named
The sloth bear cub born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Dec. 29 has been named Remi by the people who know her best—her keepers. They have been hand-rearing the cub 24 hours a day since a week after she was born, becoming her surrogate parents.
Elderly Mangabey Euthanized at the National Zoo
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is sad to report that Maude, a geriatric grey-cheeked mangabey, was humanely euthanized April 14. Maude well surpassed the typical lifespan (early 30s) of her species. She was 41 years old.

March 2014

Giant Panda Bao Bao May Start Venturing Outside This Week
Seven-month-old Bao Bao will have access to her mother Mei Xiang’s (may-SHONG) larger yard this week beginning each day around 8 a.m., weather depending. Bao Bao will be given the option to explore outside with her mother if the temperature is at least 35 degrees Fahrenheit with no precipitation. Although Bao Bao will have the option to go outside, she may decide to stay inside the panda house. It may take several weeks before Bao Bao is venturing outside with Mei Xiang regularly.
Keepers Hand-Rearing Sloth Bear Cub at the National Zoo
The decision for keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to hand-raise a female sloth bear cub instead of leaving her with her mother Khali likely saved her life. She is now very active and growing as the result of the round-the-clock care she has received for the past two-and-a-half months.
Photo Release: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Mourns Loss of Elderly Przewalski’s Horse
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s 32-year-old female Przewalski’s (Shah-VAL-skee) horse, Misha, was humanely euthanized March 12. Misha was one of three horses to arrive at SCBI in Front Royal, Va. in 1984 and the oldest Przewalski’s horse in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Program. As the most dominant mare in her herd group, she was pivotal in establishing the SCBI research program.
Dama Gazelles Born at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Animal care staff at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. are celebrating the birth of three male Dama gazelles. The calves were born Feb. 18, Feb. 20 and Feb. 25. At their 24-hour neonatal exam, the first calf weighed 11 pounds and the second and third calves weighed 12 pounds each.
National Zoo’s African Lion Gives Birth to Four Cubs
March came in like a lion—four lions, to be exact— 9-year-old African lion Shera gave birth to a litter at the Great Cats exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Their delivery March 2 spanned a seven-hour period, from 8:27 a.m. to 3:17 p.m. These cubs are the second litter for Shera and the fifth for 8-year-old father, Luke. Recently, Luke also sired 10-year-old Nababiep’s two female cubs born Jan. 24.

February 2014

Celebrate American Bison and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo at 125 Years: Summer 2014
On March 2, 1889, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill passed by both Houses that officially established the National Zoo and allocated funds for the purchase of land. To celebrate its 125th Anniversary, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is proud to bring back the animal that sparked the conservation movement and the founding of the Zoo—the great American bison. The bison exhibit is set to open in July/August of 2014.
National Zoo’s Elderly Giant Pacific Octopus Dies
Pandora, the female giant Pacific octopus at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, died yesterday. Animal care staff estimate that Pandora was about 5 years old. The median lifespan for giant Pacific octopuses is about 3 to 5 years. Pandora came to the Zoo in November 2011 when she was about 1.5 years old. She lived at the Zoo’s Invertebrate Exhibit for 27 months—longer than any of her predecessors.

January 2014

Keepers Hand Feeding Gray Seal Pup at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Animal keepers at the National Zoo have been hand feeding a female gray seal pup, born Jan. 21 at 10:21 p.m., in the holding area of the seal exhibit on American Trail. Zoo keepers, veterinarians and nutritionists have been closely monitoring the pup and her mother, Kara. Within 48 hours of her birth, the animal care team began preparations to hand feed the pup as she was not gaining weight while nursing from her mother.
DC Snowy Owl Treated by National Zoo Veterinarians
The snowy owl that has been spotted recently in the Washington D.C. area was brought to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo for care early this morning after reportedly being hit by a bus in the 15th and I St. area of the District.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo Euthanized Male Cheetah
The National Zoo is mourning the loss of an 8-year-old adult male cheetah, Draco, who was humanely euthanized earlier this morning. A final pathology report will provide more information. Typically, male cheetahs in human care have a median lifespan of 10 years.
Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) Announces New Board Leadership
John Ring Takes the Helm to Lead FONZ into 2014
Smithsonian's National Zoo Welcomes Lion Cubs
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Great Cats team celebrated the arrival of its first litter of African lion cubs in four years. On Jan. 24, the Zoo’s 10-year-old lion Nababiep gave birth to three cubs—two surviving—in an eight-hour period. These cubs are the third litter for Nababiep and the fourth for 8-year-old father, Luke.
Micronesian Kingfisher Chick Hatches: Total of 129 Birds in Existence
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute rung in 2014 with the hatching of the most endangered species in its collection—a Micronesian kingfisher—Jan. 1. The chick, whose sex is unknown, is the first offspring for its 8-year-old father and 2-year-old mother. This boost brings the total population of Micronesian kingfishers to 129 birds. Micronesian kingfishers are extinct in the wild.
Extended Hours at National Zoo's Giant Panda Habitat This Weekend
Giant panda cub Bao Bao will step out from behind the panda cams and meet the public this weekend at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Visitors to the Zoo will have the opportunity to see Bao Bao starting Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 a.m. The panda house at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat will open its doors to the general public (members of Friends of the National Zoo are receiving a preview from Jan. 11 to Jan. 17) for the first time since the Zoo’s panda team began a pregnancy watch for Bao Bao’s mother, Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), in July 2013.