A male Asian elephant, named Spike, with large white tusks and a long trunk stands outside in the sun near a pool of water at the Smithsonian's National Zoo

Our Vision: Humankind unites in support of a biodiverse planet where wildlife and nature thrive

Our Mission: We save species by using cutting-edge science, sharing knowledge and providing inspirational experiences for our guests.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute leads the Smithsonian's global efforts to save species, better understand ecosystems and train future generations of conservationists. Founded in 1889, the Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. Its two campuses are home to more than 2,100 animals, including some of the planet’s most critically endangered species. 

Always free of charge, the Zoo's 163-acre park in the heart of Washington, D.C., is a popular tourist destination, welcoming nearly 2 million visitors from all over the world each year. The Zoo instills a lifelong commitment to conservation through engaging experiences with animals and the people working to save them. Today, the Zoo is home to more than 2,200 animals representing almost 400 different species.

The Smithsonian's commitment to conservation, research and education extends to its Conservation Biology Institute in nearby Front Royal, Virginia's 3,200-acre campus. 264 animals representing 20 species live on this campus, where scientists and animal care experts conduct veterinary and reproductive research to save wildlife and habitats.

Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute researchers also work in field stations in more than 30 countries around the world. Alongside partners, they create and share knowledge to aid in the conservation and restoration of species and habitats. Findings from their studies provide critical data for the management of populations in human care, as well as valuable insights for the conservation and management of wild populations.

While the federal appropriation funds approximately 70% of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's operating budget, it only funds 50% of the capital budget and less than half of the research budget. Only through generous contributions can the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute build new animal habitats, develop educational programs, conduct and share vital research, train the next generation of global conservation leaders, and have the flexibility to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Learn how your support can help save species.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute is a long-standing accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the organization that determines modern zoological standards for its 200-plus members. AZA accreditation certifies that the Zoo has met or exceeded AZA’s standards for animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.