Gone But Not Forgotten: Former Animals at the National Zoo

Since I will be going with my son and his class on a field trip to the National Zoological Park tomorrow, I can't help but be reminded of the animals that used to be at the Zoo that are no longer there for him to see.

The National Zoological Park was orginally conceived by its founder, William Temple Hornaday (Chief Taxidermist for the United States National Museum), as a place to house endangered species and conduct research.  It was established by an act of Congress in 1889.  In 1890, Congress passed another act which placed the zoo under the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian to administer the zoo and to receive and care for the animals "for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people."  The first animals at the zoo were some 185 animals under the care Hornaday, who became Curator of Living Animals for the United States National Museum.  Today there are roughly 2,000 animals from 400 different species that reside at the National Zoo.

However, among the animals that once called the zoo home are:

American bison

National Zoo keeper Morna Holden greets a bison as she puts out food for a sandhill crane, by Jessie

Penguins

Postcard of Penguins at the Zoo, Capitol Souvenir Company, 1948, Record Unit 365, Smithsonian Instit

Hippos

Hippopotamus at the National Zoo, by Martin A. Gruber, c. 1920-1924, Record Unit 7355 - Martin A. Gr

Giraffes

Baby giraffe, Ryma, and mother, Peggy, at the National Zoo, by Jessie Cohen, 1985, Record Unit 371,

Camels

Camel and goat at the National Zoo,  Hippo, by Martin A. Gruber, c. 1920-1924, Record Unit 7355 - Ma

Polar bears

Polar Bear at the National Zoo, Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no, 2002-1061

African elephants

African elephant at the National Zoo, Record Unit 365, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no. 97

Jaguars

Jaguar at the National Zoo, by Martin A. Gruber, c. 1920-1924, Record Unit 7355 - Martin A. Gruber P

Rhinos

Postcard of Rhinoceros at the Zoo, Capitol Souvenir Company, 1948, Record Unit 365, Smithsonian Inst

Ostriches

Ostrich at the National Zoo, c. 1900, Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution Archives, neg. no. MAH

Related Resources

Related Collections

Leave a Comment

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. For copyright questions, please see the Terms of Use.