The Smithsonian’s National Zoo was created in 1889 and opened its doors in 1891. To celebrate its 130th anniversary, look back at how the Zoo has evolved through the years – from just 15 species on the National Mall to a sprawling Zoo campus in Rock Creek Park and a companion facility in Front Royal, Virginia.
In 1886, the Smithsonian’s chief taxidermist, William Temple Hornaday, took a trip to the western U.S. and was troubled by what he didn’t see: large herds of American bison. The bison’s near extinction sparked Hornaday’s crusade to prevent endangered animals from disappearing altogether. He became the first head of the Smithsonian’s Department of Living Animals, bringing 15 North American species to live on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall.
Fun Fact: Olmsted also helped design New York’s Central Park!
Thanks to conservation programs and international collaboration, the giant panda’s status has been downgraded to vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.