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About the Zoo

About the Zoo

Our Mission: At the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, we save species. We provide engaging experiences with animals and create and share knowledge to save wildlife and habitats.

Always free of charge and open 364 days a year, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is one of Washington D.C.’s, and the Smithsonian’s, most popular tourist destinations, with more than 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.

Founded in 1889, the Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. Today, the Zoo sits on 163 acres in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park and is home to more than 1,500 animals across 300 different species.

The Zoo’s commitment to conservation, research, and education extends to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, located in nearby Front Royal, Virginia. SCBI scientists and animal care experts conduct veterinary and reproductive research to save wildlife and habitats for some of the world’s most endangered animals on the sprawling 3,200-acre campus.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute leads the Smithsonian’s global effort to save species, better understand ecosystems, and train future generations of conservationists. Scientists from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute also work in field stations around the world. More than 200 scientists and their partners in more than 30 countries create and share knowledge to aid in the survival and recovery of species and their habitats. Findings from these studies provide critical data for the management of captive populations and valuable insights for the conservation and management of wild populations. 

While the federal appropriation funds approximately 70 percent of the Zoo’s operating budget, it only funds 50 percent of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's capital budget and less than half of the research budget. Only through generous contributions can the Zoo 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+ members. AZA accreditation certifies that the Zoo has met or exceeded the AZA’s standards for animal care, veterinary programs, conservation, education and safety.

 

History

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute began as the dream of William Temple Hornaday in 1887. ... read more

Newsroom

The go-to place for the latest news from the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.