The Faces of the Smithsonian National Zoo

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The majority of Amador students grow up visiting the beloved Oakland Zoo in Oakland, California, and just the same, many students and families on the east coast visit the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. for a fun and immersive daily trip to learn more about wild animals and their habitats. 

“My high school students still talk about the Oakland Zoo and how much they love it. They always try to find creative ways to try to do Journalism field trips there. Students love a good zoo!” said AV Journalism teacher Wendy Connelly.

The Smithsonian Zoo located in Washington D.C. has over 2,700 animals and more than 390 species for visitors to admire. The hundreds of daily visitors of the zoo range in diversity, aging from tiny toddlers to the elderly. 

“Today was nice to be outside and they [the zoo] changes things up here frequently, which is nice. Like back in the summer they had dinosaurs which the kids loved and it is a good place to walk around and see different things that you just can’t always see,””

— Joy, a Smithsonian Zoo visitor and mother of four, ages eleven, nine, four, and three

“Today was nice to be outside and they [the zoo] changes things up here frequently, which is nice. Like back in the summer they had dinosaurs which the kids loved and it is a good place to walk around and see different things that you just can’t always see,” said Joy, a Smithsonian Zoo visitor and mother of four, ages eleven, nine, four, and three.

Emma Hodges
Joy and her four children visit the Smithsonian National Zoo every couple of months.

Many people enjoy seeing all the animals within the zoo, but others also explore the daily programs like animal training, feeding demonstrations and keeper talks, and the different tours and attractions that the zoo offers.

“I love days like today when its not crowded because quite often if you can find a zookeeper or one of the talks that they’re doing, they are always really receptive to students, especially when there’s not a ton of them around and my kids love learning things and asking questions,” said Joy. 

Many times, many people enjoy coming to the zoo because of the freedom to be able to explore the different animal habitats at one’s own pace. Having young kids can create a lot of stress among parents and many look for an outlet for their rambunctious energy. The zoo allows children to partake in fun activities while still actively learning about the animals. 

“My daughter is two and a half and she really likes just seeing the animals. She runs around and says “More animals! More animals!” and she likes going and seeing what they’re doing and walking around the zoo,””

— Liz, a Smithsonian Zoo visitor and mother of a two-and-a-half year old

“My daughter is two and a half and she really likes just seeing the animals. She runs around and says “More animals! More animals!” and she likes going and seeing what they’re doing and walking around the zoo,” said Liz, a Smithsonian Zoo visitor, and mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old.

Emma Hodges
Smithsonian National Zoo visitor, Liz, visits the zoo with her daughter on their trip to D.C. from their home in Oregon.

Even back home in California, people enjoy visiting the zoo because of the pure fascination of seeing wild animals up close and personal. Many visitors enjoy the opportunity to get outside and be in the fresh air while visiting the zoo, which satisfies the need to get out of the house. 

Visiting zoos also allows families to bond together because all age groups can find something to enjoy at the local zoo. 

“I have an annual family pass to the Oakland zoo. My kids have loved it since before they could walk. There is something magical about watching different animals play, groom, and sleep. We are also fascinated by the pure size of some of the animals,” said AV teacher and mother of two Stephanie Kamali. 

Zoos can also trigger nostalgic memories for older students and adults who grew up going to the zoo as a child. Many visitors want to continue the tradition of going to the zoo with their own families so that their children can also come in contact with these animals and experience the enjoyment of the trip. 

“One of my earliest memories of the Oakland zoo is that I always liked the elephants there. They were the highlight of my trip every time I went there with my family. I liked the elephants in the beginning because they always seemed really ancient and kind, but now that I know that they are endangered I care about them even more because of that. Along with the elephants, I also really liked to go because I liked seeing animals that I would never get to see otherwise,” said Amador student Charlotte Whiting (‘20)

Although the array of wild animals at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C. is both a fascinating and educational opportunity, it is truly the wide range of zoo visitors that bring the community together and creates a safe and memorable atmosphere for all to enjoy.

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Emma Hodges
Two women chuckle as they enjoy the view of the panda habitat at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington D.C.

Emma Hodges
A father and daughter walk through the Smithsonian National Zoo with raincoats on to protect themselves from the rain.

Emma Hodges
An elementary school class poses for a picture during their field trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Emma Hodges
Two young girls walk alongside their mothers as they journey through the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Emma Hodges
A family walks through the different exhibits in the Smithsonian National Zoo with umbrellas in hand.

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