When in Washington, you may crave some nature and wildlife amidst the downtown city. If so, there are plenty of zoo’s and aquariums that will satisfy your need for nature! We’ve got a list of the top aquariums and zoos in Washington, D.C right here for you.
The National Aquarium in Washington
The Washington, D.C Aquarium, officially known as the National Aquarium, is home to more than 200 species including shark, eel, gators, the dreaded invasive snake-head fish and a baby loggerhead turtle. It is a private, non-profit organization that relies on private and public support and admission revenue to operate. The National Aquarium in Washington, D.C is the nation’s oldest aquarium serving visitors from the lower level of the Department of Commerce Building since 1931. However due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce building, the facility will be closing on September 30, 2013 and the animals will be transitioned to new homes at the Baltimore National Aquarium.
National Aquarium, Baltimore
The National Aquarium in Baltimore is the crown jewel of the city’s Inner Harbor and one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world. More than 1.4 million people visit Baltimore’s top attraction every year to see 16,500 specimens in an array of environments and exhibits, all of which are dedicated to environmental education and stewardship. The National Aquarium consists of the Main Level, Level Two, Level Three, Level Four and Ocean Exhibit.
National Zoological Park
The National Zoo, Washington D.C’s 163-acre zoological park set within the Rock Creek National Park, features more than 400 different species of animals! The National Zoo is a part of the Smithsonian Institution. To see all of the animals and exhibits at the National Zoo will take several hours. Among some of the favorites are giant pandas, other bears, lions, giraffes, tigers, monkeys, sea lions, and much more. “Friends of the National Zoo”, the Zoo’s membership program, is the partner of the National Zoological Park that has been providing support to wildlife conservation programs at the Zoo and around the world since 1958.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute, formerly named the National Zoo Conservation & Research Center, is a program of the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park that started primarily as a breeding center for endangered birds and mammals. Today, the 3,200-acre facility, located in Front Royal, Virginia, houses between 30 and 40 endangered species. Research facilities include a GIS lab, endocrine and gamete labs, veterinary clinic, radio tracking lab, 14 field stations, and biodiversity monitoring plots, as well as a conference center, dormitories, and education offices.
Leesburg Animal Park
At Leesburg Animal Park, a 21-acre petting zoo in Leesburg, Virginia, you can get “up close and personal” with the animals and feed them too! See llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats, monkeys, lemurs, parrots, giant tortoises, and more. Leesburg Animal Park offers wagon and pony rides, live animal shows picnic areas, and a playground as well. Leesburg Animal Park also has programs called “Zoo to You” and “Learning Safari” where they will bring zoo animals to your special event, to schools, camps and other locations.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
The third-oldest zoo in the U.S. is home to some 2,000 animals, including polar bears, penguins, and chimpanzees. The Polar Bear Watch allows visitors a view of Magnet and Alaska. The Chimpanzee Forest, Leopard Lair, and African Watering Hole are fun but the best part is the children’s zoo with its lily pads, tree slide, farm animals, and Maryland wilderness exhibit. Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is active in many conservation programs, notably the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Program and Project Golden Frog. It is the zoo that breeds the greatest number of African black footed penguins. It also helps rehabilitate local wildlife, especially birds of prey such as bald eagles.
Reston Zoo is a thirty-acre zoo in the heart of Fairfax County, Virginia. Get “up close and personal” with the animals and feed them too! See alligators, camels, reptiles, zebras, antelope, bison, ostrich, and lots more. You can bottle-feed lambs and hand-feed goats, sheep and llamas. Kids love the opportunity to take care of the animals.
All these remarkable Zoos and Aquariums are a great way to get closer to nature and get some truly friendly feelings! Let us help you to open horizons of wild nature while travelling to Washington!