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Government Shutdown FAQs

The Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, like all Smithsonian museums, receives federal funding. Thus, during a government shutdown, the Zoo—and the rest of the Smithsonian museums—must close to the public.

Federal appropriation funds approximately 70 percent of the Zoo’s operating budget, about 50 percent of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's capital budget and less than half of the research budget. Only through generous contributions can the Zoo build new animal habitats, develop educational programs, conduct and share vital research, train the next generation of global conservation leaders, and have the flexibility to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Learn how your support can help save species.
All the animals at the Zoo and at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, will continue to be fed and cared for. A shutdown will not affect our commitment to the safety of our staff and standard of excellence in animal care.

None of the Zoo's live animal cams will broadcast if the Zoo closes for a government shutdown. The cams require federal resources, primarily staff, to run and broadcast. They are deemed non-essential.

No, all gates into the Zoo (vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle) will be closed and locked. Only excepted staff will be permitted to enter the Zoo (this includes animal keepers).
Updates will be posted to the website and to social media. Please follow the Zoo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest news.