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Visiting Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC

Go wild at one of the nation’s most popular (and free) zoological parks right here in the nation's capital.

It’s not all elephants and donkeys in DC. At the National Zoo, visitors can find all sorts of animals that don’t subscribe to party lines. Lions, tigers, giraffes and the zoo’s beloved giant pandas are just some of the 1,500-plus animals that call the 163-acre park home. The zoo’s habitats feature animals from 300 different species and about 25 percent of the zoo’s residents are endangered. All of the animals at the National Zoo – which is also a global research center and conservation center – are cared for by world-class zoologists and veterinarians.

The National Zoo is located in DC’s residential Woodley Park neighborhood and, like all Smithsonian museums, admission is free. The main entrance (you’ll know it by the two Instagram-friendly lion statues flanking the gate) is on Connecticut Avenue. The zoo is just a short walk from both the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park Metro stops on the Red Line and the L1 and L2 buses drop off right in front of the entrance. Be prepared to do lots of walking! The National Zoo, which is handicapped and stroller accessible, is a large park with 18 distinct areas to explore.

Panda eating bamboo

Meet the animals at the National Zoo

The resident headline-makers are the endangered giant pandas – adults Tian Tian and Mei Xiang and three-year-old Xiao Qi Ji – who attract many of the park’s two million annual visitors. The bears will depart for China later this year, so see the majestic animals while you can and check out Panda Palooza, which will honor their wondrous time at the Zoo. In addition to visiting the giant panda habitat in-person, you can also watch the playful pandas and young cub on the Panda Cam

Of course, there are animals and habitats to explore beyond pandas. You’ll find animals from all over the world in various exhibits that are open like the Elephant Trails, Great Ape House, Cheetah Conservation Station and American Trail. Check out the National Zoo map for specifics. 

Zoo Lights Event

Special events and programming for the whole family

With world-class zoologists and conservationists on staff, every day offers an opportunity for visitors to learn even more about the National Zoo’s wild residents. Take a self-guided tour of the zoo with the Animal Adventure Guide; spend some time chatting with the animal keepers at the Great Ape House; or get up close and personal with the American farm animals at the Kids’ Farm. 


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