Buffalo at the National Zoological Park, 1890s

ID: 2004-10344 or MNH-9039

Creator: Bell, C.M

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: 1891

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 46, Folder: 13

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


Buffaloes grazing at the National Zoological Park in 1891 soon after the completion of the first building, the Buffalo and Elk Barn, a glorified log cabin house for bison and elk. In the background an elk in his yard is visible. The first inhabitants of the Zoo were the 185 animals under the care of William Temple Hornaday, Curator of Living Animals, United States National Museum, that had been sheltered by fences behind the Smithsonian Institution Building.


  • National Zoological Park (U.S.) Early History
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • Source: Smithsonian Annual Report 1891, page 49. See also OAHP Newsletter; Ewing paper; and neg. 9038.
  • The original negative number is MNH-9039, but because of the original negative's condition, the original photograph was re-scanned and given new negative and digital file numbers. In 1888 Hornaday had, at Secretary Langley's direction, undertaken a survey of land along Rock Creek in northwest Washington lying between the White House and Georgetown to determine its suitability as a zoo site. The National Zoological Park was established by an Act of Congress in March 1889. The Secretary of the Smithsonian, the Secretary of the Interior, and the President of the Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia, were constituted as Commissioners of a National Zoological Park in order to purchase land for a zoo in the District of Columbia, "...for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people." The commissioners ultimately acquired approximately one hundred and sixty-six acres at this site, some by condemnation, most by purchase. In April 1890 Congress passed another act, placing the National Zoological Park under the direction of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 46, Folder: 13

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu



Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Animal enclosures
  • Animals
  • Zoos
  • Zoo exhibits
  • American bison
  • Elk
  • Buffaloes
  • Buffalo


  • Photographic print
  • Animal, candid

ID Number

2004-10344 or MNH-9039

Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Animal, candid; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

View Full Record