Head to the Smithsonian's National Zoo on April 13 for Earth Optimism on Easter Monday. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., families are invited to celebrate Easter Monday, a Washington family tradition, with egg hunts and live music, while learning how to save species and protect the planet in the spirit of Earth Optimism. This free event includes special animal demonstrations, hands-on opportunities to learn about conservation, and the chance to meet local organizations working to connect communities to nature.
This year's activity and education stations will showcase Smithsonian conservation success stories, including:
- Black-footed ferret recovery and reintroduction
- Guam rail conservation
- Kiwi conservation
- Scimitar-horned oryx recovery and reintroduction
- Golden lion tamarin conservation
- Coral cryopreservation
- Loggerhead shrike conservation
- Giant panda research and conservation
- Conservation genomics
Visitors can also meet partners working to engage communities in conservation action:
- Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
- Anacostia Watershed Society
- City Kids
- Corazon Latino
- Latin American Youth Center
Continue to check back for updates as we add more activities!
Check back soon for the schedule of animal demonstrations.
Best Time to Visit
Spring Break and Easter Monday are the busiest times at the zoo and parking lots fill quickly. Once parking is filled, the gates will be closed to further vehicular traffic.
During peak visitation days at the Zoo, you may be greeted upon entry by one of the security personnel who will conduct a thorough but speedy hand-check of all bags, strollers, briefcases, purses and containers. You may also be hand-screened with an electronic wand.
Because of the security measures, the lines for entry to the Zoo may be longer than usual during peak seasons and holidays. We ask for your patience, cooperation and assistance in keeping everyone safe.
Parking, Drop-off and Shuttles
Designated accessible parking spaces are located in Parking Lots A, B and D on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, including information on how to purchase reserved parking, see the parking and directions page.
Accessible Drop-off and Pick-up Areas
The Zoo’s Panda Plaza Bus Lot serves as an accessible drop-off and pick-up area.
The Zoo operates a wheelchair accessible guest shuttle that runs on a continuous loop from the Panda Plaza Bus Lot/Accessible Drop-off to the lower entrance of the Zoo and back. The shuttle takes 15-20 minutes to complete the loop and does not stop at Parking Lot C.
Wheelchair and Electronic Vehicle Rental
All Zoo pathways are wheelchair accessible. Please note that the Zoo’s main pathway is located on a hill with a significant decline from top to bottom.
Wheelchairs and electronic vehicles are available on a first-come, first-served basis during Zoo hours.
Manual wheelchairs are available from the information booths at the Visitor Center (parking lot A and metro riders), Panda Plaza (parking lots A and B) and Lion-Tiger Hill (parking lot D).
Electronic convenience vehicles are available for rent from the information booths at the Visitor Center (parking lot A and metro riders), Panda Plaza (parking lots A and B) and Lion-Tiger Hill (parking lot D). Please note: A state-issued driver's license or ID card is required to rent and operate an electronic convenience vehicle.
Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members
Restrooms are located at the Visitor Center, Panda Plaza, Elephant Outpost and Conservation Pavilion. All restrooms throughout the Zoo are accessible. The Visitor Center’s restrooms, water fountains and Asia Trail gift shop are accessible via wheelchair lift.
Family restrooms are located in the Visitor Center, Elephant Outpost and Conservation Pavilion. All restrooms at the Zoo have automatic flushing mechanisms.
Aira Services for Blind/Low-Vision
Access to free Aira services are available while visiting the Zoo through use of the Aira app. More information about Aira.
ASL sign-language interpretation provided for the 12:30 p.m. featured talk: "Earth Day and Earth Optimism: The Case for Positivity for the Planet."
Prepare for your visit by downloading the sensory-friendly tip sheet with information on different sensory experiences at Easter Monday and Earth Optimism event. A social narrative for visiting the Zoo during Spring Break is also available for the event.
Sensory-friendly kits are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can check out kits at the information booths at the Visitor Center, Panda Plaza, and Lion-Tiger Hill. Guests must provide a valid ID, which will be held until the kit is returned. Each kit includes noise reducing headphones, earplugs, small fidget toys, a weighted comfort item and a sensory tip sheet for Easter Monday and Earth Optimism event.
Quieter spaces to take a break during the event
There are several spaces that are quieter and less crowded within the event site:
- Behind Reptile Discovery Center
From Olmsted Walk, head toward the entrance path to the Think Tank exhibit. Instead of going into the exhibit, bear left to follow the path behind the Reptile building. This is where the Komodo dragon, Murphy, lives. It is also home to some of the Zoo's crocodilian species.
- Think Tank
From Olmsted Walk, head toward the entrance path to the Think Tank exhibit, which is between Reptile Discovery Center and the Speedwell Conservation Carousel/Lemur Island. Head up the path past the Carousel and Lemur Island. The inside of this building is often quiet, and has many interactive components and puzzles inside!
- Small Mammal House boardwalk
Small Mammal House is directly on Olmsted Walk below the Elephant Community Center and Great Ape House. There is an anteater statue in front of the building. Instead of going into Small Mammal House, turn left at the anteater statue and walk down the boardwalk to the back of the exhibit. This space is often quiet and is home to the white-nosed coatis.
For additional information on access services at the Zoo, please contact Guest Services at 202-633-4480.