Friends of the National Zoo is the nonprofit partner of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. FONZ helps the Zoo save species by raising funds to support the Zoo's mission, providing educational and fun experiences, and inspiring members and guests. Every year, FONZ contributes millions of dollars and helps educate more than a million Zoo visitors.
2018 was FONZ's 60th anniversary and a celebration of six decades of support for the Zoo. Member families have long been some of the Zoo's greatest supporters and advocates. What began in 1958 with a dozen neighbors committed to the Zoo has turned into a thriving organization with tens of thousands of members and a growing impact in the D.C. region and around the world. Read stories submitted by members and share your own on our dedicated 60th anniversary page.
FONZ member contributions support our work and the Zoo's work in animal care, research, education, and conservation by advocating for the Zoo and its species-saving mission, participating in events and educational programs, serving as committed volunteers, and providing critical funding. FONZ members enjoy special benefits, from discounts to early access and unique opportunities, for being our strongest champions of animal conservation and wildlife research. Discover the possibilities being a friend of the Zoo can offer.
If you have questions, please contact the Membership Office at 202-633-2922, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
FONZ manages one of the largest single-unit volunteer forces in the Smithsonian Institution. This team of dedicated volunteers supports the Zoo in multiple ways from creating engaging experiences for Zoo visitors, assisting in the care of Zoo's animals, working at many of our events, and aiding in data collection enhancing our ability to protect species. From recruiting, hiring, and training, FONZ's volunteer force helps support nearly every function of daily life at the Zoo. See how you can volunteer and make a difference.
FONZ creates multigenerational learning opportunities for individuals, students, families, and friend groups of all backgrounds and ages. In the spirit of inspiring future conservationists, FONZ offers a myriad of exciting classes and camps for students from preschool through adult, on everything from "Friendly Frogs and Terrific Turtles" to a class on Zoo nutrition. FONZ collaborates across the Smithsonian, the Zoo, SCBI, and the entire community to create educational events and festivals and facilitate field trip lessons at the Zoo and educational outreach experiences at SCBI. Please contact the FONZ Education Office at SCBI for booking information. See the many ways you, your family, and friends can learn about wildlife conservation.
Please contact the FONZ Education Department with any questions.
FONZ spearheads a number of fundraising efforts that span from selling merchandise through the Zoo gift shops, to hosting special fundraising events such as ZooFari and Boo at the Zoo. These popular events help boost the Zoo's visibility in the community and increase opportunities to provide educational- and conservation-oriented materials to the public. The proceeds we raise are used to support our work and the Zoo's world-leading conservation and animal care programs, here and around the globe.
To ensure that every Zoo guest has the best possible experience in the park, FONZ supports operations at the Zoo in a number of different capacities from maintaining park cleanliness and staffing greeters and information aides, to managing the retail shops and helping to oversee the food locations. FONZ also operates park rides, guest shuttles, and ECV and stroller rentals, all to guarantee that the Zoo is always ready to welcome the roughly two and a half million visitors it receives yearly.
See what the Zoo has to offer and plan your visit to the Zoo today.
The FONZ Executive Office, in conjunction with the Board of Directors, sets the strategic vision for the organization and oversees the planning and implementation of FONZ operations and initiatives.
Please contact the Executive Office with any question for the FONZ leadership team.