National Zoological Park Travel Guide

  • National Zoological Park
    by Ewingjr98
  • National Zoological Park
    by GentleSpirit
  • National Zoological Park
    by GentleSpirit

National Zoological Park Things to Do

  • River Otters - My Nephew's Favorite!

    At the Washington National Zoo, river otters are part of the "American Trail" section of the zoo, which features a variety of animals from North America, including sea lions, seals, bald eagles, wolves, ravens, beavers, and brown pelicans. My nephew really likes river otters, so we made sure to track down these wonderful animals.

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  • Lots of Turtles

    The zoo has dozens of box turtles which can live to be 100 years old. These turtles are native and exclusive to North America, mostly in the eastern half of the country.

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  • Updates on the Pandas

    During mating season we get updates on the local news. It's always a huge event here. UPDATE:On August 26 we received word that the smaller of the two fraternal twins born to Mei Xiang had died due to respiratory issues. The remaining cub is doing well from reports and zoo staff have determined that the gender of the remaining cub is male. We don't...

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  • Guided Tours of the Zoo

    I have never used this service, but guided tours of the Zoo are offered. Tours are apparently limited to ten people. I suppose these tours would be interesting in the sense that you could get more insight into training and care of the animals. Three tours are available:1. Highlights Tour- focus on the big exhibits-the elephants, the pandas, the...

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  • The Asia Trail

    This area of the Zoo was set aside to feature animals that are native to Asia. Some are endangered. The Panda House is at the end of the Asia Trail.One of the animals that you will see here is very rare. I remember seeing a show on TV about how rare these animals are. The clouded leopard has a beautiful pelt and is one of the most rarely seen...

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  • Caracal at the National Zoo

    The Caracal is an African lynx (also known as desert lynx) mostly originating from North Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Though they are part of the Great Cats exhibit they are housed in the small mammals house. They are small, but you can tell they are feline, and dangerous when they open their mouth and show their teeth. The thing you notice...

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  • Armadillo

    Located in the Small Mammal House, the zoo has an armadillo. The proper name is the Southern Three Banded Armadillo (Tolypeutes matacus). Though we have other types of armadillos here in the US, this particular type originates from the wetlands of South America (range is Paraguay, Argentina Brazil and Bolivia). Akin to the anteater and sloth, this...

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  • Orangutans

    The Great Ape House is home to the Zoos' 6 orangutans. This is always a popular exhibit. The last time I went some of the animals were quite sedentary, preferring to lay back and chew on something while the visitors were making funny faces and jumping up and down like you know whats. The orangutan is solitary in the wild but here they live in small...

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  • Golden Tamarins at the National Zoo

    The golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) is a rather rare, endangered small monkey. It is native to the eastern forests of Brazil. Due to the loss of their habitat, living near the heavily populated coast of Brazil, there were only some 200 of them in the wild as of the 1970s. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, there are some 1600.They...

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  • Poor Lonely Beaver

    We only saw one lone beaver in the pool during our visit, but the zoo actually has five beavers. The adult male is Cleaver (Ha ha Beaver Cleaver) and the adult female is Granby; they have three offspring named Chipper, Buzz, and Willow.

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  • Zebra, not a Zonkey!

    The zoo has two Grevy’s zebras, both male, named Gumu and Dante. The National Zoo has only male zebras, and it keeps these animals until they reach adulthood, then there are sent to other locations for breeding.Did you know zebras and donkeys can be bred together, with the resulting offspring called a zonkey? Zonkeys, like mules, are typically...

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  • Chubby Seals

    The zoo has two gray seals: a male named Gunnar and a female named Selkie. Both were born in Iceland in 1973, and the male now weighs about 500 pounds while the female is quite a bit smaller at 320 pounds.

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  • Bald Eagles

    The National Zoo has two bald eagles, a female named Sam and a male named Tioga. Sam is from Alaska, and was placed in capativity in 1986 after being found with a gunshot would to her wing. Tioga is from Pennsylvania, and he had a broken shoulder in 1998 when he was brought into captivity. Neither bird can fly.

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  • Gorillas

    Haloko – femaleMandara - femaleKigali – femaleBaraka - maleKwame – maleKojo – maleA new baby gorilla was born in mid January 2009, and it was less than a month old during my visit.

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  • Red Pandas

    The red pandas have had a rough history at the zoo; in 2003 the pair of pandas died after ingesting rat poison, part of a wider series of deaths over a two year period. Now there are two new pandas, and they might be in the mood for mating.

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  • Giant Pandas

    Currently the zoo has two adult giant pandas, female Mei Xiang and male Tian Tian, and their three-year-old offspring, Tai Shan. The adults are on loan from China for about $10 million over ten years. Tai Shan is just the third giant panda born in a US zoo that has survived into adulthood, but he is owned by China as part of the agreement and will...

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  • Cheetahs in the zoo

    Three male and two female cheetahs live at the Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station. The three young male cheetah are brothers.Tumai and Amani are adult female cheetahs. Draco, Granger, and Zabini, are the males.The cheetahs are located next to the maned wolves, endangered scimitar-horned oryx, Grevy's zebras, and in the yard next to the Maned Wolves...

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  • Orangutans

    Four Sumatran-Bornean hybrid orangutans and two Bornean orangutans live at the Great Ape House and Think Tank. The orangutans can travel on an outdoor cable crossway across the zoo to the Think Tank building.Batang is a female Bornean orangutan, and Kyle is a male Bornean. Bonnie and Lucy are hybrid females. Iris and Kiko are male hybrid orangutan.

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National Zoological Park Restaurants

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    Places to eat near the Zoo

    by GentleSpirit Updated Sep 4, 2015

    There are several concession stands within the zoo grounds where you can stop to have something to eat and drink. If you choose to eat in the Zoo itself it will not be cheap, lets put it that way. These concession stands are located near most of the major exhibits. Most are closed from November to March though, just in case you are visiting in winter.

    You are welcome to bring your own food. There are benches and tables where you can have a picnic. Grilling is not allowed and you may not eat inside any of the exhibits. Furthermore, it is imperative that you not try to feed the animals...you can be assured of meeting Zoo staff that will be very angry if you do. Make sure to dispose of all debri.

    I would suggest that you eat before or after leaving the Zoo. There are plenty of reasonably priced eateries near the Woodley Park and Cleaveland Park metro stations that will be far less expensive than eating at the Zoo. In particular the Chipotle on the corner by the Woodley Metro has a great view of the bridge and the river.

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National Zoological Park Transportation

  • Getting to the Zoo on public transport

    Perhaps it is because I am a suburbanite, but taking a car into DC is definitely discouraged due to the difficulties of parking. By far the easiest way to get to the Zoo is with the Metro. It is on the RED LINE- Woodley Park/Zoo stop. It is about a 15 minute walk (1/3 of a mile) up a slight incline from there, going north. Just follow the crowds,...

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  • Metro to the Zoo

    One of the best ways to get to the zoo is via the DC Metro system. Both Woodley Park Station and Cleveland Park Station are within a half mile of the zoo's entrance, in opposite directions along Connecticut Ave NW. If you are walking at a nice pace, expect it to take 10 minutes. Both of these stations are on the Metro's Red Line.A note of advice:...

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  • National Zoological Park Hotels

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National Zoological Park What to Pack

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    Take something to drink

    by GentleSpirit Updated Sep 4, 2015

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: There are some concession stands throughout the Zoo grounds but they are very expensive! The best way to deal with that problem is simply put a few bottles of water in your backpack. Especially on a hot day, this will save you some money!

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Parts of the zoo are located on a hill and may not be easy for those with limited mobility.

    Related to:
    • Zoo
    • Family Travel

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National Zoological Park General

  • If you need to go!

    There are public bathrooms available at the Zoo. -Panda Plaza,- next to the Zoo Police Station- inside the Visitor Center (closest to the entrance of the Zoo) at the Elephant Outpost and inside Amazonia

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  • Bathroom Humor

    The bathrooms at the zoo have funny signs describing animal behavior relating to bathroom functions. One sign I saw in the men's room explained how lobsters greet each other by spraying urine, and another talked about animals that eat and defecate from the same orifice.

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  • Don't Forget Insurance

    If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.

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