WASHINGTON -- Casually jogging through the National Zoo may be a thing of the past as the zoo aims to amp up security.
The zoo is proposing to set up a perimeter fence to close all the gaps surrounding the zoo and reducing the pedestrian entrances from 13 to three.
The three pedestrian entrances would be located at Connecticut Ave, the Bus Lot Drop-off, and the Lower zoo.
The zoo aims to increase pedestrian safety throughout the zoo. The National Capital Planning Commission will review the proposed development plan on July 12.
To view entire proposed plan, click here.
The following is a statement from the National Zoo:
"The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s attendance varies greatly throughout the year varying from a few
hundred visitors per day in January to more than 25,000 visitors per day in April. To safely and
securely handle the crowds, the Zoo coordinates with several security entities including Smithsonian
Offce of Protective Services, the Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Park Police, Metro Transit
Police and the security units of D.C. Public Schools and the D.C. juvenile Court System.
Security in any large urban environment today is challenging. The Zoo faces particular problems
during high visitation periods, including March and April, when the spring-break period for local school
systems overlaps with increased visitation. After several security related incidents in or near the Zoo,
the Smithsonian Director of the Offce of Protection Services (OPS) and Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Director consulted with several groups and the local community to develop solutions.
After months of study, a report by a security consultant and an analysis of the site, the directors of
the Zoo and Smithsonian security concluded that the best course of action is to implement temporary
“access controls” on high visitation days. Controlled access means the Zoo will conduct bag checks
and other forms of visitor screening, as well as restrict the number of people entering the Zoo. These
measures, which may vary by day and event, are similar to those procedures employed by Smithsonian
This temporary access control philosophy is similar to that used by U.S. Park Police during large scale
special events to include the annual July 4th celebration on the National Mall. The Zoo is preparing to
implement this security solution this spring.
The implementation of a fence and new entry points is the most feasible, cost-effective solution,
of providing temporary access controls with the intention of eliminating violence, especially from
individuals and groups with concealed weapons, in and around the Zoo during high capacity days.
Additionally, the new fence provides the ability to secure the Zoo when closed to the public."