National Zoo

The Smithsonian National Zoological Park, commonly known as the National Zoo, is a zoo located in Washington, D.C.. Founded in 1889, it consists of two distinct installations: a 163 acre zoo within the Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., and a 3,200 acre Conservation and Research Center located at the edge of the Shenandoah National Park.

The zoo in Washington is free and open to the public and is dedicated in large part to education; the conservation center in Virginia is closed to the public and is used primarily to breed and study endangered species.

National Zoo Washington DC

The National Zoo was founded by famed naturalist and American conservation leader William T. Hornaday. Hornaday, serving as a taxidermist for the Smithsonian Institution, became increasingly concerned over the decline of many native American species, most notably the American bison. Hornaday envisioned a facility that would breed endangered American animals in captivity and educate the public about wildlife. He opened a small trial zoo outside the Smithsonian castle featuring bison, bears, and other American animals.

National Zoo Washington DC

With the aid of the Secretary of the Smithsonian, the United States Congress approved the founding of a National Zoological Park in Rock Creek Park.

The zoo grew slowly, mostly from contributions of animals from the public and circuses. It nearly closed several times in its early history. It did not begin to truly grow until William Mann became the zoo's third director, prior to World War II.

National Zoo Washington DC

Mann organized collecting expeditions around the world to bring a variety of species to the zoo, some commonplace, "must haves" like giraffes and leopards, others great rarities, like a young gorilla.

National Zoo Washington DC

Today, the National Zoo is recognized as one of the premier zoological research institutions in the United States, largely because of its contributions to captive breeding through artificial manipulation, and studies done on wild and free-ranging species. The National Zoo conducts research in numerous field stations around the world, providing expertise and logistical support to local research and conservation efforts.

National Zoo Washington DC

For more information, see link below

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