Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Sun Safety

Stay safe in the sun when you visit the Smithsonian's National Zoo

  • Get some shade: Wear sunglasses (that are labeled with “total UV protection”) and a visor/hat while outside. If possible, be in the shade midday (10 a.m. and 4 p.m.), when the sun is high in the sky and UV rays are at their strongest. All our animal houses are air-conditioned, and many outdoor exhibits (including Elephant Trails and Giant Pandas) are near shade structures.
  • Block the rays: Apply Sunscreen
    • Use a sunscreen labeled as having “broad spectrum protection,” which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays
    • Choose in the range of between 15 and 50 SPF
    • If given the choice of lotion or spray, go for the lotion. This will give you more evenly distributed protection
    • Apply the sunscreen to dry skin 15 minutes before going outdoors
    • Use enough sunscreen to generously coat all skin that will be not be covered by clothing
    • Re-apply sunscreen every two hours
  • Stay hydrated: Drink lots of water.

For your safety and convenience, all our gift shops sell sunscreen, visors, and sunglasses.

Asian elephant

Did you know? Elephants stay cool and protect their skin from sun and insects by throwing dust, dirt and hay on themselves.