The Smithsonian National ZooThe zoo was founded in 1889 as part of the Smithsonian Institute; its original mission was to "provide engaging experiences with animals and create and share knowledge to save wildlife and habitats". Keep this in mind - we'll discuss this farther down...
In a rare instance where the original placement of the Zoo is where it is now, located over the Rock Creek valley. This does beg the question why the Metro, built long after, has no station within 5 blocks of the zoo (maybe that's just my old man knees complaining).
The ArrivalI had pre-registered for entry (it's free, but still was needed) and took the Red line metro to the Woodley Park-Zoo station, which then was a very steep 1/2 mile walk up Connecticut Ave to the entrance. The zoo itself has some very steep pathways as well. I guess they think we need to lose weight?
As with many zoos, it's separated into trails of similar animals or habitats. Because it's the national zoo, there is quite a focus on endangered and very rare animals.
SummaryAs the United States' premiere zoo, one would expect it to be in a bit better shape. The animals here are primarily for display and education as there is another facility in Virginia where species survival is being handled.
The disrepair and missing exhibits is fairly depressing and shameful to myself being a citizen here. Write your congressman and senator about this (although they may be letting some things go into disrepair intentionally to get this kind of reaction?).
It is free, and it's still a pretty decent zoo, I just expected better from our Capitol.