The Place: The National Zoo
Where: 3001 Connecticut Avenue
Why Live Near Here: You’re likely an animal lover who instead of focusing on the fact that the Zoo houses animals in captivity focuses on and appreciates the Zoo’s efforts and commitments in conservation, eduction, and research. According to their website, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute cares for about 1,800 animals representing 300 species. SCBI scientists study and breed more than 20 species at their headquarters, including those that were once extinct in the wild, like black-footed ferrets and scimitar-horned oryx. Its major research initiatives are organized into six science centers: Conservation Ecology, Conservation and Sustainability, Conservation Genomics, Migratory Birds, and Species Survival. Other initiatives include the Global Tiger Initiative, Virginia Working Landscapes, and the Global Health Program. Their work doesn’t stop at the gates of SCBI. Approximately 250 SCBI scientists and students collaborate with colleagues in more than 25 countries.
Things to Know:
Everybody knows about the Zoo’s pandas and how there has been panda-monium throughout the years on more than one occasion, but a lesser known famous Zoo inhabitant, Smokey Bear, spent much of his life here too. Smokey, the “living symbol” of the cartoon icon created as part of a campaign to prevent forest fires, a black bear cub rescued from a fire, lived at the zoo from 1950 until his death in 1976. He had millions of visitors while he was living at the Zoo along with a ton of personal mail addressed directly to him – up to 13,000 letters a week. Word has it that the U.S. Post Office designated a special zip code for correspondence addressed to him due to the high volume.
During his time at the zoo, he was “married” to Goldie Bear, in hopes of one of his offspring being able to carry on his namesake. Sadly the pair produced no offspring but hope was not lost! Instead, an orphaned bear cub was added to their cage and named “Little Smokey”, with the announcement that the bear couple had “adopted” the new cub. Upon his death, The Washington Post printed an obituary which recognized him as a “New Mexico native” who had resided in Washington, D.C. for many years, working for the government.