Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington DC – A Complete Guide


Washington, DC is a federal district and the capital of the United States of America. It is named after George Washington, the first president of the United States. It’s the seat of the United States federal government. It’s also one of the most visited cities in the United States. D.C. Stands for District of Columbia.

This time we are going to talk about the most famous zoo in Washington, D.C. It’s none other than National Washington DC Zoo. It’s also one of the oldest zoos in New York. The zoo was established in 1889 with the mission of providing engaging experiences with animals and create and spread knowledge to save wildlife and natural habitats. The zoo is a historic landmark of the United States.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington DC

Washington dc Zoo

Smithsonian’s zoo is home to over 2700 animals and 390 various other species, with around 25-30% of the animals on the endangered list. The zoo is comprised of two campuses.

The first part is a 163-acre urban park in Northwest Washington D.C., known by the name of Rock Creek Park. This Park was formed by an act of Congress, signed by President Benjamin Harrison on September 27, 1980. It was the third National Park designated by the federal government. Rock Creek Park is a peaceful escape from the polluted realities of the crowded city. 


Fresh air, big lush green trees, wild animals, and a great historical background are some of the excellent recreation facilities that you can get here. They even have a planetarium. The specialty of the planetarium is a unique software that projects images of the night sky on the large dome-shaped ceiling. If you want to go hiking, you are most welcome. The Park has a 32 miles long hiking trail. You can also have a virtual tour of the zoo on their website.

Another famous event that occurs in the zoo annually is the Washington D.C. ZooLights. This event is totally free of cost. The event is excellent. More than 500,000 environment friendly LED lights are lit, which converts the whole zoo into a wonderland. The event also includes live music performances, a wide variety of winter delicacies, and plenty of shopping opportunities.  The event takes place from November to January every year. It’s a very significant event to attend with your friends and family members.

Places to see in Washington DC National Zoo

Washington dc Zoo

You should also definitely check out the old historical places that are itself in the Park. We are talking about: 

1. Battleground National Cemetery

Established after the Battle of Fort Stevens that lasted two days. The battle ended with the defeat of General Jubal A.


2. Civil War Remains

You get to see the fortifications and other structures that were built as a defensive set-up during the Civil War.

3. Dumbarton Oaks Park

A park inside a park. This is a 27 acre that was designed by Beatrix Farrand.

4. Fort Reno

Originally named Fort Pennsylvania and built-in 1861. It was built under Brig. Gen. John G. Barnard. This fort was chosen due to its strategic significance.

5. Fort Slocum

This fort was built in the northeast quadrant to protect the city from the Confederate Army. It was made by the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry and named after Colonel John Slocum.

6. Fort DeRussy

Named after Union Brig. Gen. Rene Edward DeRussy, this fort was constructed in 1861 with the purpose of Defence of Washington. It was built on a high hill to provide necessary cross-fire. It was made by 4th New York Heavy Artillery.

7. Fort Bayard

Fort Bayard was built to serve as an essential route into the capital from the north. It is named after Brig. Gen. George D. Bayard of the 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry. Fort Bayard mounted four 20-pounder Parrott rifles along with two 12-pounder field howitzers.

8. Fort Stevens

This fort is quite famous as this was the place where Abraham Lincoln was attacked by the Confederate forces. Its primary purpose was to defend the approaches to Washington from 7th Street Pike.

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Talking about the other activities that you can do here are Horse-riding, visiting the Peirce Mill, strolling with Park rangers, have a picnic with your family, play tennis, and golf in the courses in the Park.  

The other part is a 3200 acre Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Formerly known as the Conservation and Research Centre, SCBI is a symbol of growing independence from captive animals. Scientists at SCBI are work dedicatedly to the study and breed of more than 20 species, including some rarities. The SCBI headquarters is divided into five centers: Conservation Ecology, Conservation and Sustainability, Conservation Genomics, Migratory Birds, and Species Survival. 

Washington dc Zoo

Some other initiatives comprise of Global Tiger Initiative, Virginia Working Landscapes, and Global Health Program. Apart from this, more than 250 scientists and students at SCBI work together with colleagues in more than 25 countries.

SCBI has worked very hard since its inception and has also achieved many significant milestones.

They have various research programs and training for youth. You can also plan a school visit to the institute. Apart from various educational exhibits, you can also check out their video presentations that are based on wildlife. You should definitely check out their website if you are interested. They also organize various webinars and talk shows.

MORE INFORMATION about Washington DC Zoo:

Official Website: Washington DC Zoo

Washington D.C. Zoo Prices: The ticket price is free to the public.

Washington D.C. Zoo hours: You can visit various parts of the zoo as per the following time.

Main ground: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Exhibitions: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dining & Shopping: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Visitor Centre: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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Smithsonian Zoo is greatly maintained and immensely popular amongst all the other zoos in Washington, D.C. The zoo’s fantastic thing is that it is absolutely free for the public and has a lot to offer. A must visit place in Washington D.C.