Councilmember Grosso to Zoo: Scrap New Hours

by Andrew Ramonas January 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm 1 Comment

David Grosso (Photo via DavidGrosso.org)At-Large Councilmember David Grosso has waded into a heated debate over the National Zoo’s new, shortened hours, calling on the leader of the zoological park to bring back its old opening and closing times.

In a letter sent to director Dennis Kelly yesterday, Grosso wrote that locals who live near the zoo are “extremely disappointed” by the decision to open the facility at 8 a.m. and close it at 7 p.m. in the summer and 5 p.m. in the winter. The zoo had opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 8 p.m. in the summer and 6 p.m. in the winter before the new hours went into effect Friday.

Some D.C. residents are petitioning for the return of the old hours. But zoo officials haven’t budged on the new opening and closing times, saying the old hours posed a safety risk to pedestrians who shared the same paths as zoo vehicles when it was dark.

“The former zoo hours provided residents with ample opportunity to enjoy early morning and late afternoon walks, jogs, and other fitness activities,” Grosso wrote. “I understand that the change was made based on your concerns about future safety incidences; however, it is unclear what data was relied upon to support this decision.”

Despite the outcry from some locals about the new hours, not everyone is particularly upset by the change.

In an extremely unscientific poll we conducted last month, about 40 percent of respondents said the zoo should open at 6 a.m., roughly the same percentage of people who said they didn’t care because they’d be asleep either way.

Photo via DavidGrosso.org

  • VJ

    What a terrible last paragraph!

    This is part of an overall trend at the zoo ushered in by the director who was a marketing executive at Coca Cola and brought in a lot of commercialization at the Georgia Zoo. Last year he changed our zoo hours by lopping off an hour – without a peep, he just did it on his own. Blogs like this bring awareness and at the same time trivialization of the issue, in a way. Which is a shame.

    As of January 1, 2016, the National Zoo hours changed again. The grounds open 2 hours later and close 1 hour earlier. This is the equivalent of the Zoo shutting its doors 1,000 hours a year. Zoo Director Dennis Kelly made this change without consulting impacted neighbors or the many groups and individuals who regularly visit or pass through the Zoo during early morning and evening hours. According to Director Kelly, it was done for “safety and security” reasons, not budget issues. It’s too bad this aspect was not explored more in this story because it is ridiculous.

    The change in hours forces pedestrians and joggers off the safe Zoo paths onto the streets. The change in hours will have a direct negative impact on working professionals, women, senior citizens, and school-age children. It is now possible to enjoy the Zoo before and after work. With new hours most professionals will be unable to enjoy the Zoo at any time during the week. The change also impacts tourists negatively. Since at least the beginning of last year (2015), you cannot enter the zoo within one hour of closing. So if you are a tourist staying nearby and want to do more than one thing in a day, you must get to the zoo way ahead of time. You cannot even enter at 4:30 pm now. There are many tourists who signed the petition. And just because people are asleep at that hour doesn’t mean they do not want longer hours (some other time or ahem even in the evening).


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