National Zoo's American Trail Exhibit Temporarily Closed

  • On March 17 around 10:55 a.m., a contractor was performing routine maintenance on the life support system (LSS) located between the otter and beaver habitats on the American Trail exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.
  • The LSS building houses the water-processing equipment for various filtration and treatment operations. The equipment supports water quality monitoring and animal care.
  • The individual was in the LSS mechanical room and smelled chlorine.
  • Upon smelling the chlorine emission, he exited the building and a loud boom was heard shortly thereafter. There was no smoke or fire.
  • No visitors, staff, or animals were injured.
  • In an abundance of caution, the D.C. Fire Department hazmat team inspected the area. Shortly after 2 p.m. they determined that the outdoor areas were safe for staff to reenter.
  • American Trail animal care staff, including keepers and veterinarians, have completed a standard safety and wellness check. All animals are accounted for and doing well.
  • American Trail will be closed for the remainder of the day and is expected to open in the morning.