The National Zoo was one of the first zoos to establish a scientific research program. Today, the Zoo's research team studies animals both in the wild and at the Zoo. Its research encompasses reproductive biology, conservation biology, biodiversity monitoring, veterinary medicine, nutrition, behavior, ecology, and bird migration.
Zoo scientists work at the National Zoo's exhibits and lab facilities in Washington, D.C., and at the National Zoo's 3,200-acre Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va., as well as at field sites around the world.
Many animals at the National Zoo are part of conservation efforts managed by Species Survival Plans (SSPs). Through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' SSPs, zoos match and exchange animals for breeding, fostering scientific research, and reintroducing animals back into the wild. Early breeding programs at the National Zoo serve as models to develop other zoo-based conservation programs worldwide, and the Zoo directs several breeding programs for such species as golden lion tamarins and maned wolves.
The National Zoo is a premier institution for educating future scientists and conservation professionals. During the last 20 years, more than 2,000 people from 80 countries have been trained through the Zoo's zoological medicine residency training program and professional conservation and veterinary medicine courses.