FONZ Mission Statement

Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) is the dedicated partner of the National Zoological Park. FONZ provides exciting and enriching experiences to connect people with wildlife. Together with the Zoo, FONZ is building a society committed to restoring an endangered natural world.

FONZ has been providing support to programs at the National Zoo since 1958. FONZ has become so integral to the Zoo's operations and mission that there are few aspects of the Zoo's work that FONZ doesn't support in some way. Find out more.

How FONZ Supports the Zoo

Educating and inspiring Zoo visitors

  • Helping fund new exhibits and improvements to old exhibits.
  • Providing volunteers to serve as Zoo Guides, exhibit interpreters, and assistants as special events and public programs at the Bird House, Cheetah Conservation Station, the Reptile Discovery Center, and other exhibits.
  • Offering special classes on topics from primates to veterinary medicine.

Educating the public

  • Developing and distributing a variety of curriculum support materials for teachers, which can be used alone in the classroom or as part of preparation for a trip to the Zoo.
  • Running a Zoo on Wheels program to bring videos, audio tapes, animal artifacts, and fun information to children in hospitals and seniors in day-care centers.
  • Producing Smithsonian Zoogoer, our informative and beautifully illustrated bimonthly magazine.

Supporting the Zoo's scientific staff

  • Providing grants to Zoo scientific staff for research at the Zoo or in far-flung field stations.
  • Providing grants to support Zoo training programs for wildlife biologists and Zoo managers from developing countries.
  • Supporting the training of interns, graduate, and postdoctoral research fellows.

How we fund these programs

  • Providing parking, food, and gift concession services at the Zoo. Running off-site stores to raise money, boosting the Zoo's visibility, and increasing opportunities to provide educational and conservation oriented materials to the public. All proceeds are used to support Zoo education and research programs.
  • Obtaining outside grants through corporate partnerships and underwriting, and other membership and development activities.
  • Hosting several major fundraising events each year.

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