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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more information, see link below
Zoo Home Page
This site maintained by Invatol
houstonkelley.com - all rights reserved
This site maintained by invatol.com