Brief History of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Ethan Tinkelman ('16)/ Radio Manager

Founded in 1889, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo hosts over 1,800 animals. Unlike most zoos, the National Zoo’s primary aim was not to merely entertain people but instead to provide a safe and caring environment for endangered animals that are indigenous to the United States.

During a time where America was transitioning into industrialization, the zoo was meant to serve as a reminder to people that nature and wilderness were slowly deteriorating as a new urban society emerged. Additionally in 1958, Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) was founded. FONZ is an nonprofit organization that works to develop volunteer programs and expand the zoo’s community.

The National Zoo also has two parks. One of which is a public park for people to enjoy the animals and nature and another private park which serves as the headquarters for Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. Overall, the National Zoo provides to be a sanction for all animals as well as a fun attraction for people to attend.