Happy Wednesday educational travelers!

Jeff is back with another post today. Read on to learn more about the National Zoo in our nation’s capital.

Educational tours to Washington, D.C. warm the hearts of animal lovers of all ages at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, otherwise known as the National Zoo, located in the heart of northwest Washington and covering 163 acres. The zoo began as the dream of William T. Hornaday, who was chief taxidermist at the Smithsonian in the mid-1880’s. While visiting the western states in 1887 Hornaday was stunned and horrified at the lack of large herds of American bison. Millions of the great animals had been hunted to near extinction. Only a few hundred remained. Hornaday returned to the capital with not only bison, but fourteen other endangered animals to live on the National Mall. He became the first head of the Department of Living Animals at the Smithsonian and the animals would become the first inhabitants of the National Zoological Park. President Grover Cleveland officially signed an act of Congress creating the Zoo in 1889, and it officially opened in 1891.

Educational tours to Washington, D.C. will learn of animal care and conservation science at the Zoo. Since its founding, the Zoo has celebrated many milestones, from endangered species births, to reintroductions to the wild, to revolutionary scientific studies. A fan favorite are the giant pandas, first brought to the Zoo as a gift to President Richard Nixon from Chairman Mao Tse Tung of China in 1972. Today, over 1800 animals representing 300 species are cared for at the Zoo. Scientists study and breed more than 20 species, including those that were once extinct in the wild, like black-footed ferrets and scimitar-horned oryx. Educational tours to Washington, D.C. can’t go wrong by visiting the National Zoo. And, for the budget conscious, the price of admission is a real bargain- it’s free!

Until next time,