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The Center for Animal Care Sciences provides science-based husbandry, medical care, and population management for the health and well-being of all animals in the National Zoo’s collection as well as for animals at other zoos and in the wild. We lead and collaborate in conservation breeding programs, wildlife husbandry and exhibitry, and public education.

Center for Animal Care Sciences (CACS) veterinarians, curators, researchers and animal care staff lead and participate in initiatives focusing on population sustainability, wildlife health and emerging diseases, nutrition, animal behavior and cognition, and captive animal management and exhibitry through enhanced enrichment and training programs. CACS leads the field in innovative, science-based approaches to the assessment of animal health and well-being both in theory and in practice.

Research Programs

National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory

elephants

Researchers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo were the first to identify and are the world leaders in research on the elephant herpesvirus, which threatens elephant populations worldwide.
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Cognition

Zoo scientists study how primates, pandas, and other animals learn, think, and communicate.
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Enrichment

octopus enrichment

The Zoo keeps animals healthy and engaged by providing enrichment in the form of puzzles, novel foods and smells, and naturalistic habitats.
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Nutrition

clouded leopard cub

The National Zoo was the first zoo in the United States to hire a research nutritionist on staff, and the commitment to promoting and practicing cutting edge wildlife nutrition continues today.
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Bird Science

The National Zoo Bird House studies several important bird species including the endangered brown kiwi, the declining kori bustard and greater rhea, and the critically endangered blue-billed curassow. Learn more.

Zoological Medicine

red panda cub

Each of the Zoo's 1,800 animals that belong to 300 species, from leaf-cutter ants to lowland gorillas, has a team of vets to keep them healthy.
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