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Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, DC

This famous attraction has a storied history and an admirable mission-to care for animals and educate the public. This 163-acre Zoo is open 364 days a year and is free to the public. It's a popular Washington, DC tourist attraction, especially for families. From the cuddly giant pandas to the awesome lions, from the cheeky lemurs to the slimy salamanders, the National Zoo is an inspiring place to visit.



  • Open every day except Dec. 25th from April to October
  • The grounds are open from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM (last admittance 6:00 PM)
  • Exhibit Buildings from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM from November to March
  • The grounds are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Exhibit Building from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM


  • Free


  • Fiesta Musical - Sep. 29
  • Autumn Conservation Festival - Oct. 5-6
  • Boo at the Zoo - Oct. 25-27


  • Visit the animal exhibits
  • Pet the animals at the Kids' Farm
  • Ride the carousel
  • Buy a souvenir at the gift shop
  • Get lunch or snacks at one of 5 eateries


The Speedwell Conservation Carousel is a solar-powered attraction here and features dozens of different custom-carved wooden animals including many endangered species such as giant pandas, Komodo dragons and cheetahs. The Zoo also provides daily special education programs like Fish Feeding at the Farm, Small Mammal Enrichment, and North American River Otter Feeding. Kids can also download activity sheets before getting to the zoo, including scavenger hunts and bingo to make their trip even more interactive.


The National Zoo is divided into different areas that represent regions around the globe and some specialties. These include Amazonia, American Trail, Asian Trail, the Bird House, Cheetah Conservation Station, Elephant Trail, the Giant Panda Habitat, and Gibbon Ridge. Other exhibits include the Reptile Discovery Center, Lemur Island, the Great Cats, the Great Ape House, and the Invertebrate Exhibit.


  • What are the most popular and exotic animals at the zoo?
    The giant pandas from China are the most popular and well-known residents. Others are the big cats, great apes, and Asian elephants. All have web cams, so fans can follow them even when not at the zoo. Another popular stop for visitors is the Kids' Farm, a petting zoo with goats, donkeys, alpacas, and a "pizza garden."
  • Is there transportation inside the zoo?
    There is a free shuttle from the Kids' Farm to the Panda Plaza/Bus Lot. It's only available during the busy season starting in June and runs from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM.