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Security-Access Plan FAQs

The safety and security of the visitors, staff and animals are the No. 1 priority at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The Zoo has an existing perimeter that currently has 13 pedestrian entrances. To improve the Zoo’s overall security and visitor experience, the number of pedestrian entrances will be decreased to three—Connecticut Avenue, the lower Zoo (Harvard Street) and the bus parking area near giant panda habitat. These are the three entrances that the vast majority of visitors use now. Read the full statement.

PLEASE NOTE: Public comments can be submitted to the Smithsonian via

Not in the immediate future. However, we anticipate that during high-visitation periods or when there is an increased threat level, security at these entrances will include bag checks and additional screening as needed. This is in line with what the Zoo has done for the past four years. 

The vast majority of visitors enter the through the Connecticut Avenue entrance, the lower Zoo (near Harvard Street) and the bus parking area near giant panda habitat. These will be the three access points that remain open to pedestrians. Check out this visual rendering of the Zoo’s current pedestrian entrances and the three future entrances. Click here to see a current Zoo Map.  
Limiting the number of ways people enter the Zoo will enhance security and safety year-round. In the past four years on a temporary basis, the Zoo has successfully reduced its pedestrian entrances down to three.
On a typical day, visitors should not experience delays entering the Zoo. Visitors may experience a short delay if there is enhanced security screening.
The only part of the Visitor Access and Security Fencing Project proposal put forward to the NCPC for approval is the installation of additional perimeter fencing. The proposal before NCPC included Phase 2 and 3 concepts, which are not being put forward for approval at this time. The Smithsonian will engage in a public process before putting forward any other component of this plan before NCPC. 
Yes. The documents submitted are available on the NCPC website.
There will be approximately 4,700 linear feet of fencing that will supplement existing perimeter and animal-containment fencing already installed at the Zoo. Ornamental black fencing will be used in public areas. The majority of fencing will be added internally on Zoo property along North Road (used by drivers to pass through the Zoo) and around the existing parking lots.
Yes. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to security at the Smithsonian. The Zoo’s 163-acre grounds do not have defined entrances and exits found in buildings. The Smithsonian took the unique footprint of the Zoo into account. Based on implementing security-access points for the past four years during high-visitation periods, narrowing 13 entrances to three is the most responsible and efficient way for the Zoo to enhance security and safety year-round.

Phase 1, which covers the additional fencing, will start construction in 2019.

No. Vehicles will be able to enter the Zoo from the Connecticut Avenue vehicle entrance, Harvard Street bridge and Rock Creek Park. 
The Zoo has a comprehensive approach to security that includes measures that are visible and others that are not. We do not broadly discuss the specifics of our security procedures to avoid compromising their effectiveness. 
No. As part of this process, the Zoo will make sure that a safe path to each access point is clearly marked and accessible to all visitors.
We do not anticipate that the installation of the additional fencing will impact the neighborhood.
No. The Zoo will remain free to the public. For more information about visiting the Zoo, see the Visit section of the Zoo’s website.
No. The Zoo has a few rules to help ensure an enjoyable and safe experience for all visitors. For more information, see the “Park Rules” section of the Zoo’s website as well as the Smithsonian’s security policies.