One of the oldest zoos in the United States, and has one of the most extensive collections of species under their care, the Smithsonian National Zoo is one of the most popular attractions of Washington DC for visitors of all ages.
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The National Zoo, known as the National Zoological Park, was created in 1889 and is run by the Smithsonian Institution. It is home to hundreds of exotic animals from around the United States and the world. Of the rare and exotic creatures kept at the zoo, about one-fifth are endangered or threatened to some degree. Some of the most popular animals to see are giant pandas, great apes, big cats, and Asian elephants.
The National Zoo features both exhibits with live animals as well as educational, informative exhibits. Visitors can roam about the thousands of acres that make up the park’s property and view exhibits at their own leisure. A zoo is a great place for families to find activities for all ages, and admission is free!
The Zoological Park is perfect for groups as there is so much to see and explore. The animals are the focus and it is a great way to see them in habitats that are designed to be as natural as possible. The Visitor’s Center closes at 6 pm except in the winter (4 pm).
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- The zoo has 36 different species of bamboo.
- The black pacu–a species of fish that’s featured at the National Zoo–comes from the Amazon Rain Forest. The black pacu eats nuts and fruits because these foods drop from the trees in the Amazon.
- The sand cat–another species featured at the zoo–has fur on its paws so that it leaves no paw prints in the sand of its dessert homes in Africa and Asia.
- The pandas at the National Zoo are on a ten-year loan from China as part of a research effort for the conservation of giant pandas. Similar research is conducted at the National Zoo for a number of other species.
- In fact, the zoo was the first zoological park to ever conduct research for the conservation of endangered species.
- The National Zoo is also home to over a thousand plant species.