Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Bison and the National Zoo
From collector to conservationist
In 1886, the Smithsonian sent its Chief Taxidermist, William T. Hornaday, to Montana to collect bison for a display. Hornaday was shocked by how few bison he saw. While he did kill some animals for the display, he also collected live animals specifically to establish a herd. He housed the bison behind the Smithsonian Castle where they became a hit with the public.
A park becomes a zoo.
Hornaday believed a national zoo was needed to protect endangered species like bison. In 1889, Congress acted on his idea and created the National Zoological Park "for the advancement of science and the instruction and recreation of the people." In 1890, the Zoo became part of the Smithsonian, and in 1891 it opened to the public at its current Rock Creek Park site. Among the Zoo's first animals were a black bear, a bald eagle, a panther and of course, American bison.
Hornaday with young bison (1886)
Smithsonian Institution Archives. Record Unit 95. Negative Number 74-12338
Bison behind the Smithsonian Castle (c. 1886-89)
Smithsonian Institution Archives. Record Unit 95. Negative Number 8008A
School children viewing the first bison at the Zoo (1899)
Smithsonian Institution Archives. Accession 98-015.
Erected by Smithsonian Institution.
Location. 38° 55.892′ N, 77° 3.146′ W. Marker is in Smithsonian National Zoo, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Olmsted Walk. Touch for map. On the grounds of the Smithsonian National Zoological Garden. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. And Then There Were (Almost) None (a few steps from this marker); Meet Our Bison (within shouting distance of this marker); Feeding Times at the Zoo (within shouting distance of this marker); It's Our 125th Birthday! (within shouting distance of this marker); House Remodeling (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Olmsted Walk (about 300 feet away); Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (about 400 feet away); Smithsonian's National Zoo (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smithsonian National Zoo.
Categories. • Animals • Charity & Public Work •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 17, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 63 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 17, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.