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Video:Tips for Touring the National Zoo with Kids

with Holly Deambrosi

The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo features over 2,000 animals of 400 different species. Here are some tips for visiting the zoo with children, including information on special programs available for kids all year long.See Transcript

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Transcript:Tips for Touring the National Zoo with Kids

Lions and tigers and bears, wait, panda bears? Oh my, the National Zoo really does have it all! The Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park is a great place to spend an afternoon with your children in DC. With over 2,000 animals of 400 different species, visitors will enjoy learning about these animals and their habitats.

Become Familiar with the National Zoo's Layout

Visit the zoo’s website to see when events are scheduled throughout the park, and plan your tour accordingly. While you’re online, check out the variety of children’s programs available throughout the year.  General admission to the zoo is free. When you arrive, pick up a map at the visitors’ center so you’ll know where exhibits, public restrooms and food venders are located. A map can also help you plan a meeting place in case your party gets separated. Bringing a picnic lunch? There are plenty of outdoor eating areas throughout the park. But don’t share your lunch. All the animals are on special diets according to their various needs and natural habits.

Be Sure Children Know Safety Rules at the Zoo

Another way to protect the animals (and your kids) is by making sure everyone respects zoo boundaries. Plan several hours for your visit if you want to experience all the exhibits. The zoo spreads over 163 acres, so wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a stroller for little ones who may tire quickly. Be sure to wear sun protection, and stay hydrated.

Enjoy Educational Presentations at the Zoo

Take your children to the various animal exhibits to watch feedings or to hear an animal interpreter tell about that animals’ characteristics and habits. Educate your children about protecting the environment by learning about the zoo’s conservation efforts. You might even want to join Friends of the National Zoo, or FONZ, to support the zoo and receive special benefits.

From the familiar to the exotic, a visit to The Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park will be sure to leave your children wide-eyed in wonder over the natural world. To learn more about family friendly events in the DC area, visit About.com.
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