Zoo Neighborhood Council Update

I hope this finds you and the people you care for safe and healthy. We are in unprecedented times requiring all of us to dig deeply and find innovative ways to thrive personally and professionally as well as care for our communities. The Zoo has been closed for 11 weeks. I’m pleased to tell you that our animals are all well and receiving the usual quality care from our essential staff. I’ll write more about the Zoo but I have two important business items to share with you first.

The news has reported an incident that occurred last Friday, May 22 at 5 pm. A vehicle with two suspects unlawfully entered the Zoo from Connecticut Ave.  A Zoo Police Officer followed the vehicle to initiate a traffic stop. The suspects ignored our Officer who was finally able to stop the vehicle near the bottom of the Zoo. The Officer approached the suspects who then drove the vehicle directly towards the Officer. This aggression prompted the Officer to discharge his weapon at the suspects, thus striking the vehicle. Nobody was injured. The Metropolitan Police Department has taken the lead on the investigation and arrested  the two suspects involved. This is an ongoing investigation.

I felt it was important that you hear directly from us some details of the incident as I wouldn’t want you to have the impression that one of our officers discharged his weapon without cause.

A schematic drawing and several photos showing the Reptile Discovery Center's cracking portico

We are in the first phase of restoring and updating our Reptile Discovery Center. It is an historic building and we must preserve the beautiful entrance façade.  We’ve been asked by the DC State Historic Preservation Office to solicit public opinion on the façade restoration. Therefore, I’m soliciting your help to inform our neighbors and constituents about this project. Would you please post an announcement on your listservs and/or send an email to appropriate people? The public comment period starts this Friday, May 29 and will close June 26, 2020. Here is draft language for your consideration:

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is actively planning to restore the historic Reptile Discovery Center (RDC) and update the animal habitats and exhibits. They are in the first phase of the project to remove and restore the sculptural portico entrance and welcome your input. The larger renovation of RDC will come in the future. You can read more about the history and significance of the project on their website: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/news/neighborhood-news.  Please send comments from May 29 – June 26, 2020 to NZP-CommunityOutreach@si.edu.

I look forward to welcoming you back to the Zoo. I wish I knew accurately when that will be. We are in the throes of learning, planning, and following the best advice of the CDC and other experts to determine exactly how we can safely welcome visitors back to the Zoo. I can’t put enough emphasis on ‘safety.’ We have been hard hit financially like so many. We’re anxious to find our new normal and I will write again when I have more details about what that will look like.

Your support is always appreciated.