AAA/Inspector 49
AAA/Greg Weekes
Courtesy of National Zoological Park
Courtesy of National Zoological Park
Courtesy of National Zoological Park
Courtesy of National Zoological Park
National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institute/Jessie Cohen
AAA Editor Notes
National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute 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 2,700 animals representing 390 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, giant pandas, red pandas, fishing cats, Asian small-clawed otters. 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.

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. The Electric Fishes Demonstration Lab shows off the power of a 5-foot-long electric eel.

Other habitats and highlights include Cheetah Conservation Station; the Great Ape House; 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. Entry passes are required to enter the zoo and admission is based on park capacity.

Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.

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