This weekend, Oct. 3 and 4, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., will open to the public for its annual Autumn Conservation Festival. Held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Festival will allow visitors to explore the scenic facility, view endangered species—such as red pandas, maned wolves and white-naped cranes—and meet the animal keepers and world-class scientists who study them and their environments.
Each booth at the event gives an opportunity to learn more about the important science that takes place at SCBI and the National Zoo. Visitors can discover more about cheetah biology and learn how and why SCBI scientists track migratory birds. Hands-on activities will help visitors learn the important role forests play in climate regulation. SCBI ecologists will share how camera-traps and citizen-scientist program eMammal is revealing the biodiversity in our own backyards. Reptile Discovery Center biologists will speak to the Zoo's efforts to save amphibians and its studies about the Shenandoah Valley's elusive salamander species. Visitors can meet a kiwi at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and learn about the Zoo's partnership with conservation organization Operation Nest Egg. At the pollination booth, children will have an opportunity to make origami and have their faces painted while learning from SCBI scientists about the important roles native plants, bees and monarch butterflies play. In addition to these and other booths, visitors can catch a glimpse of endangered animals, play games or attend talks on topics such as nutrition sciences and canid conservation. Food, beverages and Zoo merchandise will be available for purchase.
Guests must have a car pass to attend the Festival. SCBI Club members and Patron-level members are entitled to a free car pass. All other guests may purchase a car pass, which admits up to six guests, for $30. Vehicles holding up to 16 passengers may purchase a $50 parking pass. Advance purchase is encouraged as vehicle pass prices increase if purchased onsite. To learn more about the Festival's events and to purchase parking passes, visit the Zoo's website. The Autumn Conservation Festival will be held rain or shine.