Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Ian Livingston

Thanks to a reader for sharing a letter from the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park:

“Beginning January 1, 2016, the Zoo’s hours of operation will be modified so that our gates will open later and close a little earlier.

You’ve heard me state that the safety of the National Zoo’s guests, staff, and animals is my number one priority. We constantly think about safety as well as improvements that will allow our team and vendors to move freely around the park during early morning hours. From animal food deliveries and vet appointments to supply drops and grounds maintenance, this critical early morning work ensures that your Zoo runs smoothly and is prepared for visitors. The new closing hours enable us to protect and safeguard our visitors and animals, especially when it gets dark earlier in fall and winter.

We’ve evaluated the impact of these changes on our neighbors and community. We’re aware that joggers and walkers use the park for recreation, and that commuters use the North Road as a shortcut— although it is not a public road. Knowing that we will frustrate some of our neighbors, changing the Zoo’s open hours was a very difficult decision.I hope that you will appreciate and support my decision knowing that I cannot, and will not, compromise on safety issues. Moreover, this adjustment will enable the Zoo to use our time and resources in the most efficient manner possible.

The change will allow us to open our animal houses one hour earlier, giving our visitors more access to see animals, which is the primary reason people come to your great National Zoo.”

zoo hours


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