AAA Editor Notes
National Zoological Park main pedestrian entrance is at 3001 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Spread out along the border of Rock Creek Park, the Smithsonian's National Zoo is one of Washington's most popular attractions and a hands-down kid fave. It is home to approximately 1,800 animals representing 300 species, including Asian elephants, great apes, great cats, giant pandas, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.
The Asia Trail's beautiful bamboo landscape is home to six species: sloth bears, clouded leopards, red pandas, fishing cats, Asian small-clawed otters and Japanese giant salamanders. At Elephant Trails, Asian elephants exercise and forage as they would in the wild.
Giant pandas Tian Tian and Mei Xiang, the zoo's resident rock stars, reside at the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat. Their cub Bao Bao (the name means “treasure”), born in 2013, captured the hearts of panda enthusiasts around the globe. In February 2017 Bao Bao was flown to a new home in China under an agreement between the two countries that panda offspring are returned when old enough to breed. Mei Xiang gave birth to a male club, Bei Bei (pronounced “Bay Bay”), in August 2015.
American Trail features landscaped trails replicating both land and water environments, from deciduous woodlands to an underwater sea cave along a rocky coastal shore. The habitat is home to gray and harbor seals, sea lions, bald eagles, ravens, river otters, gray wolves and beavers. African lions and Sumatran tigers live at the Great Cats exhibition. Within the Reptile Discovery Center are snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises, crocodiles, salamanders, frogs and toads.
In Amazonia, explore a flooded forest habitat inhabited by turtles, sting rays and arapaima, one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world. Trek through a rain forest environment where titi monkeys, roseate spoonbills and yellow-rumped caciques roam free.
Other habitats and highlights include Cheetah Conservation Station; the Great Ape and Small Mammal houses; and Kids' Farm, where there are domestic farm animals and interactive experiences for youngsters.
Note: Arrive at the Giant Panda Habitat early to avoid long lines. Due to the bears' natural behavior there is no guarantee they will be visible.
Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.