Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States and is a leader when it comes to science, education and sustainability. Home to over 300 species of animals, this famous zoo will never fail to captivate adults and children alike.
North America is home to a diverse array of wildlife, many species of which have been severely threatened in the past. The zoo’s American Trail features everything from California sea lions to gray wolves to brown pelicans to bald eagles and showcases a number of animals that are now listed as endangered.
The exhibits of the Asia Trail opened in 2006, and features seven Asian species, with the most popular being the giant pandas, the red panda and the clouded leopards. In addition to the Asia trail, the zoo is home to several other Asian animal species that can be found in other areas, such as the Sumatran tigers in the Great Cats area, the Asian elephants at the Elephant House, and the orangutans at the Great Ape House.
The Amazon River is the most diverse ecosystem in the world, home to millions of different plants and animals. The Amazonia exhibit features a 27,000-gallon aquarium that gives visitors a peek into the tropical world of the Amazon River, housing everything from red-tailed catfish to the arapaima, the largest freshwater fish in the world, and one that almost resembles a serpent.
Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea
Washed Ashore is a temporary exhibit that is currently running at the zoo until early September. This exhibit features seventeen large sculptures of marine life, each of which has been constructed entirely from plastic pollution that has been recovered from the ocean. From sharks to jellyfish, these huge sculptures are aimed at making people stop in their tracks to really think about the way in which we are polluting our oceans, causing permanent damage to the planet. The zoo has always been committed to marine conservation, and raising awareness on the topic of ocean pollution is something that is always promoted.
For those visiting the zoo with children, stopping by at the Kids’ Farm is a must, as this interactive experience is a great way for young ones to learn more about animals. From touching the cows and the donkeys to discovering more about exactly where their food comes from, the Kids’ Farm is a great educational tool for children. Another point of interest for children is the Pizza Garden, which explains exactly how each of the ingredients from a pizza are grown, with children finishing off the experience by playing in the Pizza Playground.
The zoo sprawls out for over 163 acres, and a map is available on their website for those who would like to plan their route in advance. When visiting the zoo, do try to coincide your route with some of the zoo’s special daily events, such as the lemur feeding, the meet-a-small mammal sessions, the elephant training demonstration, and the Amazon fish feeding, as all of this will only enrich your time here even more.