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“Where Were the Animals?”

National Zoological Park
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Ranked #42 of 455 things to do in Washington DC
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: A park-like zoo containing 4,000 animals and 500 different species.
Useful Information: Activities for young children
Reviewed March 16, 2013

I was extremely disappointed in this zoo; as were the others in our party. The zoo covers a lot of land but has minimal animals. Most exhibit areas contained no animals. Oddly enough there were signs on several exhibits that stated not to be alarmed if the animals were not present as they might be resting. Seriously? I have visited several zoos before and the resting animals are generally in sight in the back areas of their exhibit. It is a shame that a zoo has the land space and exhibit area that is found here and does not have the animals. In the gibbons exhibit which is quite large there was one pitiful looking gibbons laying on the ground face-down. Several people actually thought he was dead. However we stood around awhile and finally saw him move, although he did not look well. We did happen to speak to a local person who had been visiting the zoo for years and she stated that the lack of animals had been constantly getting worse over the years and that animals frequently died at that zoo. It was quite a shock for us as we thought this would be an outstanding zoo and were excited to get to go there. We were very frustrated by the time we left and felt that the day had been a complete waste of time.

5  Thank sunburst83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,878 - 2,882 of 3,827 reviews

Reviewed March 15, 2013

We recently went to the National Zoo a week ago and were so happy to find much of the construction on trails that had been closed for a while finally complete.

Some of the improvements include:
- a nice, new configuration of the seal exhibit
- the newly landscaped trail from the seals up to the elephants
- the relatively new elephant area
- the new Carousel (opened December 2012) - (costs $4 a ride, but is one of the more beautiful carousel with all types of animals, animal tracks, and different types of song birds and migratory birds painted on it.

When visiting, try to metro or if you drive - park in the lowest lot. Arrive early and walk from the bottom of the hill around in a circle up the hill and then down visiting the animal exhibits. The food is very expensive. Bring snacks and a picnic lunch and hat/sunscreen/water in the summer, as it can be hot.

Favorite places:
- the pizza garden play area by the farm animals
- the farm animals
- Amazonia
-newer elephant, seal, and panda areas
- ground hog exhibit where the kids can pretend to be groundhogs in a burrow
- exhibit near the cheetahs where kids can pretend to be a cheetah pouncing on it's prey

There are great special events - a favorite is the September event for Hispanic Heritage month.

Although I prefer going to national parks where the animals roam freely, it is nice for children to see animals that they might not see in the wild.

4  Thank Kunatai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2013

Went for zoo lights and had a great time! The displays are amazing! The people are friendly and we had a great time!

3  Thank EleutheraGirl76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

Take the metro and walk a mile uphill for most! Zoo is hilly and large. Not very impressed! Kids thought it was ok!

Thank lrib
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

We really only went to see the pandas. We tried calling ahead to be sure the panda exhibit was open as it was rather cold the afternoon we wanted to go. We were unable to get anyone on the phone, so we decided to go anyway. We stopped to see the cheetahs and walked over to the Asian trail. At the entrance they posted a sign stating that due to the cold temperatures, some of the animals may not be in their exhibits as they aren't acclimated to cold weather. We walked the trail anyway, just in case, and were pleasantly surprised to find the Red Panda in his enclosure. He seemed rather surprised to see us and we were to see him. None of the other animals on the Asian trail were out, though, to include the pandas.

As another poster has mentioned, you really don't need a map. Everything is clearly marked and there are park maps posted every few feet. If you don't want to pay for one, you can access and print a copy of the map off of their website. But definitely beware going to the zoo on any cold days. Especially if you're specifically going to see the pandas.

2  Thank Bnix1212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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