Friends of the National Zoo


Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) is the dedicated non-profit partner of the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

How FONZ Supports the Zoo

Educating and inspiring Zoo visitors

- Helping fund new exhibits and improvements to old exhibits.
- Providing volunteers to serve as Zoo Guides, exhibit interpreters, and assistants at special events and public programs at the Bird House, Cheetah Conservation Station, the Reptile Discovery Center, and other exhibits.
- Offering special classes on topics from primates to veterinary medicine.

Educating the public

- Developing and distributing a variety of curriculum support materials for teachers, which can be used alone in the classroom or as part of preparation for a trip to the Zoo.
- Producing Smithsonian Zoogoer our informative and beautifully illustrated bimonthly magazine.

Supporting the Zoo's scientific staff

- Providing grants to Zoo scientific staff for research at the Zoo or in far-flung field stations.
- Providing grants to support Zoo training programs for wildlife biologists and Zoo managers from developing countries.
- Supporting the training of interns, graduate, and postdoctoral research fellows.

How we fund these programs

- Providing parking, food, and gift concession services at the Zoo. Running off-site stores to raise money, boosting the Zoo's visibility, and increasing opportunities to provide educational and conservation oriented materials to the public. All proceeds are used to support Zoo education and research programs.
- Obtaining outside grants through corporate partnerships and underwriting, and other membership and development activities.
- Hosting several major fundraising events each year.

While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. We follow the Smithsonian’s terms of use, as described at

Since 1958 the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) has been providing support to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Since then FONZ has raised millions of dollars to support the critical work of the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – including species preservation, animal care, Zoo-based events and volunteer Zoo staff. We are committed to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo mission to save species – for us and generations to come.

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