Peach bird at National Zoo

A Must-Visit Attration

The Smithsonian's National Zoo is the main zoo in Washington, DC. Here are the key details about visiting:

  • Location: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
  • Hours: Open daily 8 AM to 6 PM (March 15-Sept 15) or 8 AM to 4 PM (Sept 16-March 14)
  • Admission: Free. It's worth noting for many of these events, while admission is free, visitors are required to reserve entry passes in advance online.
  • Size: 163 acres with over 2,100 animals representing nearly 400 species
  • Notable animals: Asian elephants, Sumatran tigers, sea lions, orangutans
  • Accessibility: Accessible via Metrorail (Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan or Cleveland Park stations)
  • Dining options: Several cafes and food trucks available throughout the park
  • Shopping: Gift shops located in the Visitor Center, Panda Plaza, and near the Great Cats exhibit

The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution and serves as both a zoo and a global research/conservation center. It's a popular attraction in DC, offering visitors the chance to see a wide variety of animals in naturalistic habitats. The zoo also offers live streaming webcams of some animals, including black-footed ferrets, elephants, lions, and naked mole-rats.

For those interested in special events or educational opportunities, the zoo offers self-guided tours, keeper talks, and interactive experiences like the Kids' Farm.

Two New Giant Pandas Coming

Qing Bao

On May 29, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) announced it will welcome a new pair of giant pandas, Bao Li [BOW-lee] and Qing Bao [ching-BOW], to the Zoo by the end of the year. Giant pandas are icons in Washington, DC, and beloved around the nation and the world. For more than five decades, NZCBI has created and maintained one of the world’s foremost giant panda conservation programs, helping move the panda from “endangered” to “vulnerable” on the global list of species at risk of extinction.

“We’re thrilled to announce the next chapter of our breeding and conservation partnership begins by welcoming two new bears, including a descendent of our beloved panda family, to Washington, D.C.,” said Brandie Smith, NZCBI’s John and Adrienne Mars Director. “This historic moment is proof positive our collaboration with Chinese colleagues has made an irrefutable impact. Through this partnership, we have grown the panda population, advanced our shared understanding of how to care for this beloved bear and learned what’s needed to protect wild pandas and preserve native habitat.”

Panda Exhibit Improvements The zoo is currently renovating and enhancing both the indoor and outdoor panda areas to prepare for their arrival to include:

  • Remodeling the indoor panda habitat with new climbing structures, water features, and rockwork.
  • The indoor and outdoor habitats are being updated to enhance safety and maximize space for the bears.
  • Enhancing the outdoor panda habitat with multi-level climbing structures and cooling features.
  • Upgrading the Giant Panda Cam system with state-of-the-art technology.
Bao Li

Meet The Bears

Bao Li: Two-year-old male Bao Li—whose name means “treasure” and “energetic” in Mandarin Chinese—was born Aug. 4, 2021, at the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) in Sichuan to father An An and mother Bao Bao. Not only was Bao Li’s mother born at NZCBI in 2013, his grandparents, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, lived at NZCBI from 2000 to 2023, where they served as ambassadors for their species.

Qing Bao: Two-year-old female Qing Bao—whose name means “green” and “treasure” in Mandarin Chinese—was born Sept. 12, 2021, at CCRCGP, to father Qing Qing and mother Jia Mei. Qing, her father’s name, evokes the lush and mountainous habitat where giant pandas roam in the wild. Bao, which means “treasure,” reflects that she is cherished by all who know her.

Qing Bao
Black Bear Hanging Out

A Haven for Wildlife in the Heart of Washington, DC

Nestled in the heart of Washington, DC, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, more commonly known as the National Zoo, stands as a testament to the city's dedication to wildlife conservation, education, and recreation. Established in 1889, the National Zoo spans 163 acres in Rock Creek Park and is part of the Smithsonian Institution, making it one of the oldest zoos in the United States. This sanctuary not only offers a retreat from the urban hustle but also serves as a critical hub for animal care, research, and education. With an impressive collection of animals, fascinating exhibits, and a strong commitment to conservation, the National Zoo continues to captivate and educate millions of visitors each year.

Big Fish

A Diverse Collection: Animals and Exhibits

The National Zoo is home to approximately 2,700 animals, representing more than 390 species. These animals are housed in a variety of exhibits designed to mimic their natural habitats, providing both the animals and visitors with a rich, immersive experience. The zoo's collection includes a diverse array of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates.


Asian Elephant

Among the zoo's most famous residents are the giant pandas. The National Zoo is one of the few places in the United States where visitors can see these beloved animals. Two new Giant Pandas are arriving before the end of 2024.

Another highlight is the Elephant Trails exhibit, which houses a herd of Asian elephants. This expansive habitat provides the elephants with ample space to roam, forage, and engage in natural behaviors. The exhibit also features an Elephant Community Center, where visitors can learn about the zoo's efforts to conserve Asian elephants in the wild.

Other notable mammal exhibits include the Great Ape House, home to western lowland gorillas and orangutans, and the Cheetah Conservation Station, where visitors can observe cheetahs, zebras, and other African species.


The Bird House exhibit invites Zoo visitors to soar into the fascinating world of North American shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds. The Bird House focuses on bird conservation and education. The exhibit, called "Experience Migration," highlights the incredible journeys of migratory birds and the challenges they face.

Pink Flamingo

Roseate spoonbills are bright pink birds with long, spoon-shaped bills. They populate marsh areas in Florida and the Gulf Coast where their populations are recovering from decades of over-hunting. When it walks, the roseate spoonbill swings its head back and forth in a sideways motion.

Spoonbills fly in long diagonal lines with their necks and legs completely stretched out. The roseate spoonbill sleeps standing, usually on one leg, with its head tucked beneath its back and shoulder feathers.


Popcorn Cart
Wooly Wooly
Zoo Panda Sign

Cheetah Conservation
Zoo Sign with Pandas
New Bird House
Bear in Tree
Bird with Snack
Blue and Pink Coral