Perimeter Fencing and Security Plan

Community Meeting Notice: On Wednesday, Aug. 1, the Smithsonian's National Zoo will host a public meeting that will include a presentation about the Zoo's perimeter fence and security plan and a Q&A. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Zoo's new Conservation Pavilion, located next to Mane Grill (#11 on the Zoo map).
  • The Conservation Pavilion is a 15-minute, downhill walk from the Connecticut Ave. entrance and a 5-minute walk from the Harvard St. Bridge entrance.
  • The closest parking lot to the Conservation Pavilion is Lot D.
  • A shuttle will run from the Bus Parking Lot to the lower entrance of the Zoo before and after the meeting.

This statement was updated on July 18, 2018.

The safety and security of the visitors, staff and animals are the No. 1 priority at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. There will be no changes to the Zoo’s current screening procedures and the Zoo has no plans to implement permanent, full-time screening.

The only part of the Smithsonian’s Visitor Access and Security Fencing Project proposal put forward to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) for approval is the installation of additional fencing, scheduled to begin in 2019. Although the proposal before NCPC, which was deferred until the fall, refers to additional phased security concepts, these proposals are not under review by NCPC at this time and are in the concept-only phase.

The Smithsonian is committed to engaging in a public process before submitting new security concepts for review by NCPC. Comments can be submitted to the Smithsonian via

For answers to some of the most-asked questions regarding the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Security-Access Plan, please see the Security-Access Plan FAQs page. The Zoo will host a community meeting in August for anyone interested in learning more about the fencing project.

Zoo Entrances

The addition of the permanent perimeter fencing will reduce the existing 13 entrances, in stages, to improve the Zoo’s overall security and visitor experience. Limiting the number of ways people enter the Zoo will enhance security and safety year-round. During high-visitation periods or when there has been an increased threat level, the Zoo will continue to implement temporary security screening—as it has at these same entrances for the past four years.

The Zoo has an existing perimeter that currently has 13 pedestrian entrances. These include:

  • Three public main entrances used by the majority of visitors: 
    • Connecticut Avenue
    • Lower Zoo (Harvard Street)
    • Bus parking area near the giant panda habitat
  • Seven public entrances are small pathways from the Zoo’s parking lots (Lot A, Lot B and Lot C) to Olmsted Walk, the main walkway that runs through the Zoo.
  • Two entrances near Amazonia that are used as service entrances, but accessible to pedestrians.
  • One staff-only entrance into the Visitor Center that is accessible to pedestrians.

In 2019, the Zoo will reduce the 13 public entrances to three main entrances and three temporary consolidated entrances at existing parking lots. See map above.

  • Three main entrances used by the majority of visitors will be unchanged:
    • Connecticut Avenue
    • Lower Zoo (Harvard Street)
    • Bus parking area near the giant panda habitat
  • Lot A, Lot B and Lot C will remain in use while the Zoo completes the evaluation of the central parking facility. The perimeter fencing will allow for the temporary consolidation to one entrance (a gate in the fencing) from Lot A and Lot B into the Zoo. Note: Visitors who park in Lot D will not be impacted as they will continue to enter through the Lower Zoo entrance.
    • Four pathways from Lot B will be consolidated into one.
    • Two pathways from Lot A will be consolidated into one.
    • The entrance to the Zoo from Lot C will remain unchanged.
  • The two service entrances near Amazonia will be made accessible only to staff. Note: The closure of these entrances will not impact the Rock Creek bike path that crosses the Zoo’s property.
  • One staff-only entrance into the Visitor Center that is accessible to pedestrians will now be only accessible to staff.

A central parking facility, on what is now Lot C, is in the final evaluation phase and would not be complete for several years. This would replace the Lot C entrance.

If the central parking facility is constructed, the Zoo will have four central entrances:

  • Connecticut Avenue
  • Lower Zoo (Harvard Street)
  • Bus parking area near the giant panda habitat
  • Central Parking Facility entrance
  • Parking Lots A and B will transition into new animal exhibits eliminating the temporary consolidated visitor entrance points.

Photos, from left to right: The Zoo's Connecticut Avenue entrance, a map showing the Zoo's current 13 existing pedestrian entry points, a map showing the proposed three central pedestrian entry points and three temporary consolidated entrances at existing parking lots.

Image Gallery