two giant pandas

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 Zoological Park is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex. The Smithsonian includes 18 museums and galleries, as well as the National Zoo.

The words "National Zoo" represent a large, complex, and diverse organization with a multifaceted mission: demonstrate leadership in animal care, science, education, and sustainability.

The National Zoo is far more than a place where people can see wild animals.

We are a 163-acre zoological park set amid Rock Creek Park in the heart of Washington, D.C. Open to the public 364 days a year, we are home to 2,000 individual animals of nearly 400 different species. Our best known residents are our giant pandas, Tian Tian, Mei Xiang, and their cub, Tai Shan.

The Zoo is one of Washington's and the Smithsonian's most popular tourist destinations. We welcome up to two million visitors—from the local community, the country, and the rest of the world—every year, free of charge.

We are a place where people can marvel at wonderful animals, learn about wildlife and its conservation, and enjoy a beautiful, peaceful experience among our gardens. We are a member of the American Public Gardens Association. We are also a research, conservation, and education center for endangered species. And, we boast a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital and extensive research facilities.

We are also a 3,200-acre rural campus in Front Royal, Virginia, at the edge of Shenandoah National Park. (This campus, the Conservation and Research Center, is closed to the public.) Here, various endangered species breed in more expansive facilities. Many of our scientists studying endangered species and offering education and professional training are based here, too.

We work in field stations around the world: from China in Asia to Gabon in Africa, Spain in Europe, Venezuela and Panama in South and Central America, and Nevada and Nova Scotia in North America.

We are also Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), the private side of our public/private partnership. More than 40,000 families are members of FONZ, and these dedicated zoogoers are our greatest supporters and the best advocates for our cause. FONZ’s primary role is to make friends and raise funds to support our joint mission. This year FONZ celebrates its 50th birthday.

We are also this website, the "virtual" National Zoo, where people everywhere can explore our resources, learn about our programs, and join us in celebrating, studying, and protecting wildlife and their habitats.

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