Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



SCBI Researchers: Notes from the Field

SVF Foundation DeliveryMay 2015

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute received a very special delivery in February 2015 from the SVF Foundation: a 1,400 pound tank carrying more than 30,000 biomaterials! The "Smithsonian & SVF Biodiversity Preservation Project" aims to preserve and study the frozen germplasm (embryos, semen, and other biomaterials) of rare and endangered heritage breeds of cattle, pigs, goat, and sheep. Read more.

Kirtland's Warblers in the BahamasMarch 23, 2015

In an effort to discover more about the wintering locations and habitat preferences for Kirtland's Warblers, a team of researchers, including Nathan Cooper from SMBC, has traveled to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. Read more.

Tracking Golden EaglesMarch 2015

Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Brian Smith of the USFWS Division of Migratory Birds Region 6 are deploying cell phone transmitters on Golden Eagles to understand the overwintering movements and the breeding locations of birds wintering in the Colorado-Wyoming region. Read more.

Coffee Farm Pollinators StudyFebruary 2015

Amanda Caudill and a field crew are currently in southern Costa Rica studying pollinators on coffee farms. They are working on a 740-acre certified, organic coffee farm trying to determine if the way that shade trees are managed influences the diversity of pollinators. Read more.

Saving Species in Central AfricaJanuary 2015

SCBI researchers met with more than 20 scientists from 3 continents to save the species and ecosystems of central African forests using groundbreaking evolutionary methods, comprehensive monitoring, and local resources. Read more.

An Elephant and Clouded Leopard Expert in ThailandDecember 2014

SCBI reproductive physiologist Janine Brown has been studying clouded leopards and elephants for more than two decades. Follow her as she travels through Thailand to save species. Read more.

Coral Spawn AustraliaDecember 2014

As part of the Reef Recovery Initiative, Smithsonian scientists Dr. Mary Hagedorn, Mike Henley and Virginia Carter visited the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) to use human fertility techniques to help Australia ensure their coral populations for many years to come. Read more.

A Trip to the China Centre for Research and Conservation of the Giant PandaNovember 2014

Learn about Morgan Maly's trip to Dujiangyan, China to help at the China Centre for Research and Conservation of the Giant Panda. Read more.

Penguin Conservation Expedition in South AfricaNovember 2014

Check here for updates and photos from Steve Sarro who is currently in South Africa on a penguin conservation trip. Read more.

Tracking Migratory Birds in TexasOctober 2014

Follow Dr. Pete Marra's migratory bird work. He is researching in Texas right now and hoping to advance the conservation and understanding of birds throughout their life cycle. Read more.

Releasing Black-Footed FerretsAugust 2014

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute staff released black-footed ferrets, members of a species once thought extinct, onto wild prairie in Colorado. Read more.

Panamanian Golden Frog DayAugust 2014

Once a year on August 14, an official holiday in Panama called Panamanian Golden Frog Day, our staff come together to help coordinate a week-long festival celebrating Panama’s flagship amphibian as a symbol for the environment. Read more.

Tagging Black-crowned Night HeronsJuly 2014

Every spring and summer the National Zoo's Bird House hosts some very special migratory guests—about 100 Black-crowned Night Herons. Read more.

Kirtland's Warbler StudyJuly 2014

The Kirtland's Warbler is a small bird that breeds in Jack Pine forests in Michigan and winters in The Bahamas, and possibly other parts of the Caribbean as well. In the 1970's there were less than 200 Kirtland's Warblers anywhere in the world. Read more.

Studying ElephantsJuly 2014

How do you keep one of the world’s largest land mammals happy? SCBI scientist Janine Brown and her team are wrapping up a massive study of what contributes to elephant well-being in human care. Read more.

Carolina Chickadees in DCJune 2014

This study investigates how non-native plants may be affecting food resources for backyard birds. Read more.

Bird Banding at Mad Island, TexasMay 2014

In 2012 the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center established a bird banding station at The Nature Conservancy's Clive Runnells Family Mad Island Marsh Preserve (Mad Island) in Matagorda County, Texas. During the springs of 2012, 2013, and 2014, we banded thousands of migratory birds on their northward journey to breeding areas. Read more.

Mexican Mammal Study in Coffee FarmsApril 2014

Coffee is an important cash crop worldwide. It is the second highest traded commodity next only to oil. The lives of millions of people are intertwined in this cash crop. Additionally, many studies have shown that coffee farms can serve as refuges for wildlife. Read more.

PeruApril 2014

tree climbingSCBI scientist conducts the largest and highest arboreal camera trap study in the Peruvian forest to more effectively observe arboreal animals. Read more.

Birds in Nicaraguan Coffee FarmsFebruary 2014

In an ongoing study in Nicaragua, researchers are looking into the role birds play in controlling insect pests on coffee farms. It is a win-win, the coffee farmer gets a free pest extermination service and the birds get food and shelter. Read more.

Wire-tailed Manakins in EcuadorFebruary 2014

Studies have begun in the Yasuni National Park, thought to be the most biodiverse habitat on the planet, on the wire-tailed manakin. The park is located in a remote area of Ecuador in the Amazonian rainforest. Read more.

Endocrine LaboratoryJanuary 2014

assayThe Endocrine Laboratory at the Zoo's Conservation Biology Insitute tracks and analyzes the hormones for animals throughout the Zoo. Read more.

VirginiaSeptember 2013

lionsA National Zoo keeper works with an SCBI scientist to study hellbenders in Virginia. Read more.

MoroccoMay 2013

lionsSCBI scientists organized and facilitated the thirteenth annual meeting of the Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group. Read more.

BangladeshMarch 2013

SCBI scientists met and coordinated with other Global Tiger Initiative participants to protect the tigers of the Sundarbans. Read more.

North AmericaMarch 2013

lionsSCBI and National Zoo scientists are using science to improve the ways lions live and breed in North American Zoos. Read more.

AustraliaNovember 2012

coral Acropora loripesA team of scientists and keepers traveled to Australia to collect samples of coral and freeze them for future conservation efforts. Read more.

GabonJuly 2012

field team in GabonA team of scientists and keepers traveled to Gabon to track tiny mammals through a roadless wilderness. Read more.

AppalachiaJune 2012

hellbenderScientists and keepers are traveling all over the eastern United States this year to study a unique and amazing animal: the hellbender, the largest salamander in North America. Read more.

TexasMarch 2012

image unavailable - orchard oriole

Every spring millions and millions of migratory birds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico and make land fall at places like the TNC's Mad Island Preserve in Texas. Please check in with us regularly from now until mid-May to see how this amazing animal migration is faring. Read more.

CubaMarch 2012

image unavailable - yellow warbler

Pete Marra, Bob Rice, and Scott Sillett from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Migratory Bird Center recently traveled to Cuba. Because of its size and proximity to the United States, Cuba is a critically important island for overwintering migratory birds. Read more.

GeorgiaFebruary 2012


Several Reptile Discovery Center keepers joined the Orianne Society in Georgia to find and study indigo snakes. They managed to find five of these remarkable and beautiful snakes. Read more.

IndonesiaJanuary 2012


A great ape keeper headed to Indonesia to learn about conserving orangutans, tigers, and elephants in the wild. Along the way, she got to visit a facility that cares for and rehabilitates orphaned and injured orangutans. Read more.

BhutanDecember 2011


Three SCBI scientists left in late November 2011 for the remote and mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan nestled in the Himalayas to conduct a critical training course in wildlife health and immobilization. Read more.

PeruDecember 2011


Jessica Deichmann, a research scientist with SCBI, and Ed Smith, a biologist at the Zoo’s Amazonia Exhibit spent two weeks in the Peruvian Andes, surveying Acancocha water frogs and measuring tadpole tails. Read more.

MalaysiaOctober 2011


A curator of large mammals at the National Zoo went to Malaysia to join a team who was exploring elephant and wildlife conservation working with the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks. Read more.

ThailandJuly 2011


SCBI’s research team has just completed a two-year camera-trapping study, and recently captured and radio-collared the first dhole and golden jackal living in (and around) a protected area in eastern Thailand. Read more.

South AfricaMay 2011

elephant in South Africa

A National Zoo elephant keeper went to South Africa, where he was part of a innovative project to help address challenges in conserving African elephants. Read more.

JapanFebruary 2011

Japanese giant salamander

A Reptile Discovery Center keeper took a trip to Japan to scout out the Japanese giant salamander's habitat and habits; both in the wild and in more controlled environments, such as breeding centers and zoos. Read more.

KenyaOctober 2010

giraffes in Kenya

A Cheetah Conservation Station keeper biologist went to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy outside of Nanyuki to volunteer with a long-term study of large herbivores and their effects on the habitat. Read more.

ArgentinaAugust 2010

Zoo scientists and curators traveled to the Temaiken Biopark outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, to participate in a joint international workshop on animal welfare and wildlife enrichment. Read more.

AustraliaJuly 2010


A Bird House biologist travelled to Queensland, to work with the Australian Rainforest Foundation (ARF) in its efforts to save the southern cassowary and establish a wildlife corridor. Read more.

PanamaJune 2010

Caught on a camera trap in GabonPanama

SCBI scientists and keepers took a trip to Panama to help establish "lifeboat colonies" of local amphibians before they're driven extinct by a devastating fungus. Read more.

BrazilMay 2010

GLT in Brazlil

Small Mammal House keeper Kenton Kerns traveled to Brazil to search for golden lion tamarins, an endangered species found only in the Atlantic Forest in the state of Rio de Janeiro. Read more.

KenyaApril 2010

kori in Kenya

SCBI scientist and keepers conducted a biomedical survey of wild bustards. This understanding of what a healthy wild kori looks like helps provide care for koris in the wild and in zoos. Read more.

Puerto RicoMarch 2010

For the past three years, SCBI scientists I have been traveling to the west coast of Puerto Rico, timing their arrival for the day of the August full moon. They study elkhorn coral, and need to be there for its annual underwater spectacle. Read more.