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Smithsonian National Zoo

In & Outdoor Free
Children's Museums, Natural History Museums, School Trip, Healthy/Active, Educational, Touristy
National Zoo Drive Northwest, Washington, DC
URL: Smithsonian National Zoo  Phone: 202 633 4800
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Activity Overview

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is the nation's zoo is a 163-acre zoological park set amid Rock Creek National Park in the heart of Washington, D.C. The zoo's large park-like environment contains 4,000 animals and 500 different species. Most notably, the zoo is home to a pair of Giant Pandas and their baby Bao Bao which reside on the popular Asia Trail.

Things to See & Do

  • African Savanna - The Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station is home to Grevy's zebras, scimitar-horned oryx,dama gazelles, cheetahs, and other animals.
  • Amazonia - The Zoo's Amazonia Exhibit leads visitors into the realm of the Amazon River Basin, where giant arapaima, pacu, red-tailed catfish, and piranhas swim in shallow water, and poison arrow frogs, titi monkeys, and tanagers inhabit the world above. Living kapok, avocado, and cocoa trees spread their roots in this enclosed tropical habitat.
  • Asia Trail - Asia Trail is a series of exhibits home to seven Asian species: sloth bears,fishing cats, red pandas, clouded leopards, Asian small-clawed otters, a Japanese giant salamander, and of course the famous giant pandas.
  • Asian Elephants - Elephant Trails is one of the most popular exhibits at the Zoo. The new expanded home fosters the development of a thriving, reproducing, multigenerational herd. Visitors have the opportunity to see the elephants both indoors and out.
  • Birds (Zoo) - The majority of the Zoo's birds live in the beautiful, sanctuary-like Bird House but birds are also scattered throughout other exhibits as well.
  • Giant Pandas - Giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian are at the National Zoo under a Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement between the Zoo and the China Wildlife Conservation Association fostering a program designed to preserve this endangered species. Giant panda cub Bao Bao is now on exhibit! Bao Bao spends much of her time in the trees of her outdoor exhibit.
  • Great Apes & Primates - Five western lowland gorillas live at the Great Ape House. Visitors can see them every day. The youngest is Kibibi, born in 2009.
  • Great Cats - The Great Cats exhibit on Lion/Tiger Hill features Sumatran tigers and African lions—living, breathing, roaring great cats. Lions and tigers are on exhibit between 10:00am and 4:00pm daily (weather permitting).

Speedwell Conservation Carousel - This gorgeous, custom-carved carousel features animals on exhibit at the Zoo and beyond. The carousel includes beloved endangered species including giant pandas, Komodo dragons, and cheetahs, the attraction will welcome visitors of all ages to Lion/Tiger Hill with delightful animal figures and colorful scenery.

National Zoo Insider Tips

  • Parking is limited in April & May; crowds are large and parking lots fill up by 10:30 a.m. this time of year. Take the Metro via the Red Line and exit at either the Woodley Park or Cleveland Park stations.

Arriving via Metro

  • Take the Red Line to the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan stop or the Cleveland Park stop. The Zoo entrance lies almost exactly halfway between these stops, and both are a short walk from the Zoo.
  • Tip: It's an uphill walk from Woodley Park to the Zoo, and a level one from Cleveland Park. We suggest you arrive at Cleveland Park and leave from either Metro station.
  • If you exit at the Woodley Park–Zoo/Adams Morgan stop, walk north (away from McDonald's and CVS). The Zoo is about 3 blocks from the stop, on the right (east) side of Connecticut Avenue.
  • Explore this online Zoo map and plot your route through the Zoo so you don’t miss anything. Choose a meeting place in case someone gets separated from the group. (Paper maps at the park cost about $3).
  • Wear comfortable shoes (seriously) as the Zoo is set on hilly terrain and some paths are steep. (you'll get a bit of a workout walking around here).
  • Dining Options - There are a number of food vendors at the Zoo. You can also pack your own lunch & drinks.

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