News & Politics

The National Zoo Will Open to the Public on July 24

The Udvar-Hazy Center will be opening as well. Visitors will be required to obtain a free, timed-entry pass.

Giant Panda Mei Xiang | Photo courtesy of the National Zoo

Today, the Smithsonian announced the National Zoo and the Udvar-Hazy Center will reopen to the public on Friday, July 24. Visitors will be required to obtain a free, timed-entry pass, which can be reserved starting today at or by calling 1-800-514-3849, ext. 1.

The Zoo will be open from 8 AM to 4 PM daily, and the Udvar-Hazy Center will be open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM daily. To ensure the safety of guests, both locations will require visitors over the age of six to wear a face covering (even when outside at the Zoo), and will have directional guidance where appropriate to help ensure social distancing.

The free, timed passes will help to keep numbers manageable so guests can effectively social distance. 5000 passes will be released each day for the National Zoo, 1500 each day for the Udvar-Hazy Center. Individuals can reserve up to six passes. Restrooms will be open at both locations, and outdoor concessions and retail kiosks will be open at the Zoo. Some indoor exhibits or areas may be closed or operating at limited capacity. More information about each location can be found at the National Zoo’s website and the National Air and Space Museum’s website.

The Zoo and the Udvar-Hazy Center were chosen for reopening due to their capacity to facilitate social distancing: The Zoo is a 163-acre outdoor park, and the Udvar-Hazy Center consists of two aircraft hangers that make up over 300,000 square feet of space. The Smithsonian hasn’t released any plans for reopening its other museums, though it hopes to do so in the coming months. The Institution will be using the Zoo and the Udvar-Hazy Center as opportunities to learn about what reopening strategies are the most effective, in the hopes of implementing those techniques in its other museums.

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.