Arctic fox in an enclosure at the National Zoological Park, c. 1900s, NZP-0274.

Historic Images of the National Zoo

Originally conceived by its founder, William Temple Hornaday, as a place in which to house endangered species and to conduct research, the National Zoological Park was established by an act of Congress in 1889. Hornaday, a taxidermist for the Smithsonian’s US National Museum, began to keep live animals as models in a shed behind the Smithsonian Institution Building, the Castle, and those animals soon proved popular with the public.

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