The Smithsonian National Zoological Park is part of the Smithsonian Institute in Washing D.C. It is a world renown zoo with over 2,000 animals from 400 different species. The District of Columbia or D.C. Zoo is divided into these areas: African Savanna, Amazonia, Asian Elephants, Asia Trail, Backyard Biology, Birds, Giant Pandas, Great Cats, Great Apes and Other Primates, Invertebrates, Kids’ Farm, North America, Ocean Living, Reptiles and Amphibians, Small Mammals and Think Tank.
Backyard Biology offers a look at some of the animals and insects that we can appreciate every day. Some areas of the zoo have been developed to attract certain animals or insects such as butterflies. Others have been changed to contain plants not normally see in the National Zoo area.
The Giant Panda exhibit is home to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. These two giant pandas are part of the Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement between the Smithsonian Zoo and China’s Wildlife Conservation Association. The pandas can be seen online with a webcam.
Kids’ Farm offers barnyard animals such as cows, goats and alpacas. The area also has a Pizza Garden to teach children about gardening. NOTE: Because of a reduced Federal budget, this area is slated to close during the summer of 2011. Notice of the closing should be on the website.
The Washington DC Zoo holds special events throughout the year such as Brew at the Zoo and Rock ‘n’ Roar. Announcements of these can be found on their website and through their newsletter.
Where Can I find Discounts to the Washington DC Zoo?
Even though the zoo has free admission, there are still benefits from becoming one of the Friends of the National Zoo or FONZ. FONZ memberships start at $40. Membership benefits include:
FREE parking. Since parking can be $20 a visit, zoo membership can pay for itself very quickly.
10% discount at the National Zoo stores
FREE or discounted admission to over 100 zoos and aquariums nationwide
Smithsonian National Zoological Park Details
Daily programs are FREE and include fish and octopus feeding, Meet a Great Ape Keeper and Elephant Training Demonstration.
As with most of the Smithsonian Museums, admission is FREE to the Smithsonian Zoo.
The zoo has a cafe and gift shop.
The zoo is open every day of the year except for Christmas Day.
Hours for the DC Zoo are April to October from 10am to 6pm. November to March from 10 am to 4:30 pm.
Guests can bring a picnic into the zoo. The Washington National zoo offers two picnic pavilions and smaller seating areas for picnics.
The Smithsonian National Zoo suggests allowing at least four hours to see the entire zoo.
Parking in the National DC Zoo’s parking lots can be pricey. It is $10 for the first hour, $15 for two to three hours and $200 for more then three hours. A few parking meters are available on the street but the longest they can be set for is two hours. In addition, keep in mind, that parking in a residential area can have a downside. Cars without the appropriate neighborhood sticker can be towed.
Parking spots can be reserved by calling 202-633-4486 M-F from 11am to 3pm at least 48 hours before coming to the zoo. The cost for this service is $30 for non-members of the zoo and $20 for FONZ members.
The Metro train and bus can be used to reach the zoo. Metro train stops are Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park. Both are about 3 blocks from the zoo.