Great Cats

National Zoo's

The Great Cats exhibit on Lion/Tiger Hill features Sumatran tigers and African lions—living, breathing, roaring great cats. They are ambassadors for their wild relatives, and for the Zoo's conservation and science initiatives for tigers, lions, and many other cats, which, even if not great in size, are still great!

Lions and tigers are on exhibit between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., daily (weather permitting).

Endangered Song

On Earth Day 2014, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute launched the “Endangered Song Project,” an analog-meets-digital outreach campaign that asked 400 participants to help raise awareness about the fact that there are only 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Read more.

Portugal. The Man Endangered Song Concert T-Shirts

Limited edition t-shirts are still available for purchase. Call 202.633.0126 to place your order.

Lion Update: July 1

On Father’s Day weekend, Shera’s four cubs made their big debut at the Great Cats exhibit! Now, visitors can see the whole pride every day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. weather permitting. Read animal keeper Rebecca Stites' latest update on the cubs.

Tiger Update: April 25

Sumatran Tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita turn 9 months old on May 5—how time flies! One sign that they are making the transition from cubs to sub-adults is that both have started to lose their “baby” incisor teeth. Their adult fangs will take a few months to grow out.

It’s all a part of growing up—and it certainly hasn’t curbed their appetite. In their native habitat, a Sumatran tiger mother and her cubs would eat their prey together as a group. To align our tiger’s experience with those of their wild cousins, keepers also feed Damai, Bandar, and Sukacita as one group. They receive about 77 pounds of meat each week (about 11 pounds per day). In addition to their normal diet, the cubs also receive bones and frozen-thawed rabbits once a week. Although we can’t measure exactly how much each cat consumes, keepers can tell from the cats’ weekly weigh-ins that Damai is maintaining her weight and the cubs are growing. Bandar now weighs about 120 pounds and Sukacita about 96 pounds!

Read more about the tiger cubs.

Lots of Cats

There are cats all over the Zoo! Tigers and lions live at Great Cats, with caracals right next door. Cheetahs live at the Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station. Fishing cats and clouded leopards live on Asia Trail. A sand cat lives in the Small Mammal House. → Learn about cats at the Zoo.

Cat Conservation

Clouded leopards at the National Zoo

Large or small, cats are graceful, specialized, and powerful animals. Yet, they are among the most endangered. Zoo conservation biologists are working with colleagues on lions' home ground in Africa, and tigers' in Asia, to develop the scientific understanding necessary for effective conservation. Zoo scientists are studying the ecology, behavior, and reproductive biology of tigers, lions, and many other cat species, including cheetahs, clouded leopards, and fishing cats.