poison dart frog

external linkZoos: A Historical Perspective
from Smithsonian Institution Libraries

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The National Zoological Park is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.



The National Zoo's two million annual visitors see fascinating animals in a beautifully landscaped park. What most people don't see is what happens behind the scenes to allow the Zoo to fulfill its mission to provide leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability.

Read the Diary of a Zoo Leader in Training
The Zoo’s first Fujifilm Curatorial Resident in Animal Care provides a window into what it’s like to work at the National Zoo.

Animal-care Staff

To maintain the health and well being of the animals in our collection takes a team of people with diverse skills. In addition to keepers who look after animals day to day, curators manage the collection and direct conservation and science programs, including participation in Species Survival Plans.

Veterinary Care

The Zoo also boast a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital where our team of veterinarians ensure the good health of the collection's animals. This team both carries out a program of preventive medicine and treats ill and injured animals. When an animal does die—and this is inevitable in a living collection—our pathologists determine the cause of death. This helps advance our understanding of zoo animals medicine.

Scientific Research and Conservation

The Zoo is home to many scientists and their students who are studying animals both in the collection and in the wild. Ours was the first zoo to host such a program and remains at the forefront of all zoos in the breadth and depth of its science and conservation enterprise.

Exhibits, Education, and Outreach

Another team, composed of designers, writers, artists, and educators, plan exhibits, create educational graphic displays, and provide a variety of education programs for the public and school groups.


To keep the Zoo running for animals, visitors, and staff takes electricians, painters, gardeners, maintenance people, concessions staff, and more. In many ways, the Zoo is like a small town.

Integrated Pest Management

The National Zoo, like zoos around the country and particularly those in cities, attracts rodents, yellow jackets, and other unwanted visitors. Find out how the Zoo uses integrated pest management to eliminate pests.

Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ)

FONZ is the friend-making and fundraising arm of the National Zoo. FONZ recruits and provides programs for members, manages development, hosts special events, and recruits and trains volunteers who contribute in every area of the Zoo.


This team includes the senior staff of the Zoo and FONZ, who provide leadership and vision for the organizations. Accountants, personnel managers, and information technology professionals every area's activities.

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