The National Zoological Park

National Zoo - Washington - DC Travel Blog

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The huge outside bird cage

Although cynical persons who read the combination of Washington DC and National Zoo may think I visited US Congress I did not do that, I really visited a zoo. The National Zoological Park is part of the Smithsonian Institute the huge educational and research institute that owns 19 museums, 9 research centers and, one zoo. The National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It was opened in 1889 by and act of the previously mentioned US Congress! In 1890 it became a part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Like all the Smithsonian museums the zoo does not charge an entrance fees, but offers the same high quality services as the museums do. The zoo is built in North West DC, in a very nice neighborhood.

The Komodo dragon
The area is rather hilly, and the zoo is constructed on the side of one of these hills. From the entrance the main path through the zoo, the Olmstead Walk, continuously descends. This gives the animal habitats a very natural character. Besides that the zoo has a rather modern lay out. The habitats are spacious, and extensively decorated with native plants and or water works. Very impressive.

It was an extremely hot day. We had about 36 °C (97 F). This caused a really strange experience when I entered the tropical rainforest hall, which interior was actually cooler than outside. Hey, let's cool off a bit, let's go into the tropical hall!

One of the highlights for me was the house of the invertebrates, as well as the Komodo dragon.

The invertebrates
The latter is a giant lizard that only lives on about 5 islands in Indonesia. The Komodo dragon is hardly kept in zoos since it is extremely difficult to keep them healthy. The National Zoo was the first zoo that had a dragon in its collection.

Another famous resident of the Zoo used to be Smokey Bear. Everybody who has traveled the American Forests knows Smokey Bear, a bear shaped puppet that warns the visitors for fires in order to prevent forest fires. Smokey was, however, a real bear. It got tragically stuck in a wildfire in New Mexico and was badly burnt, but saved. Smokey Bear was brought to the National Zoo and became so popular that it received up to 13,000 letters of fan mail per week. So many that the US Postal decided to assign him his own zip code.

More pictures below!

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The huge outside bird cage
The huge outside bird cage
The Komodo dragon
The Komodo dragon
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
At the entrance of the zoo
At the entrance of the zoo
The bird house
The bird house
The bird house
The bird house
Folded flamingo
Folded flamingo
Flamingoes
Flamingoes
The huge outside bird cage
The huge outside bird cage
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
The invertebrates
Jurassic Park?
Jurassic Park?
In the Amazonia hall, a few inches…
In the Amazonia hall, a few inche…
Shot in the Invertebrates Hall of…
Shot in the Invertebrates Hall of…
National Zoo - Washington - DC
photo by: mdalamers