Beginning Jan. 18, 2022, the Zoo is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last admittance 2:30 p.m.). Select animal buildings remain closed. Entry passes are required for all guests, including infants. All visitors ages 2 and older are required to wear a mask in all indoor spaces at the Zoo, regardless of their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated visitors do not need to wear a mask in outdoor areas.

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Melissa Songer, Ph.D.

Conservation Ecologist
B.S., Georgetown College, M.S., University of Oklahoma, Ph.D. University of Maryland.
Melissa Songer is a Conservation Biologist at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's (SCBI) Conservation Ecology Center. She works primarily on the conservation and landscape ecology of endangered species in Asia and Chad. She uses advanced geospatial technologies to detect human transformation of landscapes and assess its impacts on endangered species and their habitats. Her research integrates extensive collection of ecological data in the field including surveys of endangered species, their movements, and assessments of human communities, with spatial models. She develops science-based strategies for sustaining and restoring species and ecosystems and works extensively with partners on the ground to implement conservation solutions.
Songer’s current projects include restoring Przewalski’s horses to their native range in China and Mongolia, movements of Asian elephants, human-elephant conflict in changing landscapes in Asia, restoring and tracking scimitar-horned oryx in Chad, and restoring giant panda landscapes in China. She also leads the Smithsonian’s Myanmar Initiative to study and sustain the biodiversity of this critical global hotspot. This is a pan-science Smithsonian initiative with the goal of leveraging existing resources and expertise to answer fundamental questions about biology of species, drivers of extinction, landscape function, and ecosystem health.
Songer integrates capacity building with all her research and conservation programs through training and mentoring protected area staff, conservation professionals, and graduate students in conservation GIS and wildlife monitoring. She conducts courses and workshops in the U.S. and abroad and has trained more than 900 individuals representing over 40 countries.
Recent Publications: 
Esmaeili, Saeideh,Jesmer, Brett R.,Albeke, Shannon E.,Aikens, Ellen O.,Schoenecker, Kathryn A.,King, Sarah R. B.,Abrahms, Briana,Buuveibaatar, Bayarbaatar,Beck, Jeffrey L.,Boone, Randall B.,Cagnacci, Francesca,Chamaille-Jammes, Simon,Chimeddorj, Buyanaa,Cross, Paul C.,Dejid, Nandintsetseg,Enkhbyar, Jagdag,Fischhoff, Ilya R.,Ford, Adam T.,Jenks, Kate,Hemami, Mahmoud-Reza,Hennig, Jacob D.,Ito, Takehiko Y.,Kaczensky, Petra,Kauffman, Matthew J.,Linnell, John D. C.,Lkhagvasuren, Badamjav,McEvoy, John F.,Melzheimer, Joerg,Merkle, Jerod A.,Mueller, Thomas,Muntifering, Jeff,Mysterud, Atle,Olson, Kirk A.,Panzacchi, Manuela,Payne, John C.,Pedrotti, Luca,Rauset, Geir R.,Rubenstein, Daniel, I.,Sawyer, Hall,Scasta, John D.,Signer, Johannes,Songer, Melissa,Stabach, Jared A.,Stapleton, Seth,Strand, Olav,Sundaresan, Siva R.,Usukhjargal, Dorj,Uuganbayar, Ganbold,Fryxell, John M.,Goheen, Jacob R. 2021. Body size and digestive system shape resource selection by ungulates: A cross-taxa test of the forage maturation hypothesis. Ecology Letters, . 10.1111/ele.13848
Huang, Qiongyu,Wang, Fang,Yang, Hongbo,Valitutto, Marc,Songer, Melissa A. 2021. Will the COVID-19 outbreak be a turning point for China's wildlife protection: New developments and challenges of wildlife conservation in China. Biological Conservation, Article 108937. 10.1016/j.biocon.2020.108937
Leimgruber, Peter,Songer, Melissa A. 2021. Conservation: Where can elephants roam in the Anthropocene?. Current Biology, R714–R716. 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.037