The National Zoo, Washington DC's 163-acre zoological park set within the Rock Creek National Park, features more than 400 different species of animals. The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution and admission is FREE! (There is a fee however, for parking in Zoo lots.)
Getting to the National Zoo
Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC
Closest Metro Station: Woodley Park/ Zoo /Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park.
The main entrance to the National Zoo is along Connecticut Avenue. There are also two entrances at the east side of the Zoo, near Rock Creek Park. One is off Rock Creek Parkway, the other is at the intersection of Harvard Street and Adams Mill Road. See a map of the National Zoo
Parking: Parking rates are $22 for Non-members, Half-price of Free for FONZ Members (depending on membership level). If you do not mind a short walk, you can usually find free street parking on the side streets surrounding the zoo.
- To see all of the animals and exhibits at the National Zoo takes several hours. You should pick up a map and plan ahead so that you don't miss any of your family's favorite animals. Among some of the favorites are giant pandas, other bears, lions, giraffes, tigers, monkeys, sea lions, and much more. See a Guide to the Animals at the National Zoo
- Visiting the National Zoo involves a lot of walking. You should dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. To avoid crowds, arrive early in the day or after 2 p.m. Weekdays are usually less crowded than weekends, and fall and winter are less crowded than spring and summer.
- Check out the daily programs at the zoo including animal training, feeding demonstrations, and keeper talks. The National Zoo offers some great special programs throughout the year. See the schedule of special events at the National Zoo.
- Be sure to visit the newest exhibits: The Giant Panda Habitat and Asia Trail and The Elephant Trails.
Photos of Animals at the National Zoo
Animals at the New Asia Trail
Panda Cub, Tai Shan
Adult Pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang
National Zoo Hours
The Zoo is open every day of the year except December 25.
October 30 to April 1: Grounds are open 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Buildings are open 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
April 2 to October 29: Grounds are open 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Buildings are open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Food and Shopping
Food concessions offer burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, salads, ice cream, hot pretzels and other snack foods. Snack stands are scattered throughout the park. Visitors may bring their own food and drinks.
The National Zoo Store offers a great selection of gift items including apparel, hats, toys and games, books, videos and jewelry. You may also shop online at www.smithsonianstore.com/national-zoo.
Official Website: nationalzoo.si.edu
Conservation and Research
The National Zoo operates a 3,200-acre facility, located in Front Royal, Virginia, that houses between 30 and 40 endangered species. Research facilities include a GIS lab, endocrine and gamete labs, veterinary clinic, radio tracking lab, 14 field stations, and biodiversity monitoring plots, as well as a conference center, dormitories, and education offices.
Special events are hosted throughout the year by the National Zoo and Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ), the Zoo’s nonprofit partner. Here's the calendar of events:
Family Celebration - Easter Monday, March 28, 2016. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more than 100 years, families from Washington's African-American community have visited the National Zoo on Easter Monday to socialize and celebrate the holiday with a variety of activities and entertainment.
The event is free and all are welcome. (202) 633-3040.
Earth Day Celebration - April 23, 2016, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. The Zoo and FONZ will commemorate Earth Day with a clean up of Rock Creek. Learn about the many green achievements and continued efforts across the National Zoo. Group tours of the green features of American Trail leave from the Carousel at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
National ZooFari - May 19, 2016, 6:30 to 10 p.m. FONZ's annual fundraising event, a casual, exciting evening of gourmet foods, fine wines, and fabulous entertainment. Live music, animal encounters, a sweepstakes, and a silent auction. Proceeds benefit a variety of programs at the National Zoo, including conservation and science projects, exhibit development and construction, and the Zoo's revitalization project. (202) 633-4470.
Brew at the Zoo - July 21, 2016. Join more than 2,000 young professionals from the D.C. area and enjoy handcrafted beers brewed by more than 20 local and European breweries, as well as live music and hors d'oeuvres.
ZooFiesta - September 18, 2016, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A celebration of the diversity and richness of Latin American culture and wildlife. Enjoy a variety of family-oriented cultural activities, live music and dance performances, special keeper talks about animals native to Latin American countries, and a Latin American food court.
Autumn Conservation Festival - October 1-2, 2016. The one time every year that Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute, Front Royal is open to the public! Come get a behind-the-scenes look at our world-renowned science, research, and animal care.
Boo at the Zoo - October 21-23, 2016, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. This popular event regularly sells out weeks in advance, and is a fun and safe way for kids and families to celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating throughout the Zoo. Children also enjoy hands-on activities and interpretive talks about some of the Zoo's creepiest creatures and check out the hay maze and musicians. The Elephant House and Great Cats exhibits will be open. (202) 633-3045.
ZooLights - November 25, 2016-January 1, 2017. Closed Dec. 24, 25, 5-9 p.m. Celebrate the holiday season at the National Zoo and see larger-than-life displays featuring many of the Zoo’s most popular animals, plus fun activities and live entertainment.
For more information and to purchase event tickets, visit the FONZ website or call (202) 633-3040.