Proposed security gates for the National Zoo. Digital rendering courtesy of the National Capital Planning Commission.
The Smithsonian Institute is proposing to permanently close most entrances to the National Zoo, and to add gated security checkpoints at the remaining entries. Adding more barriers like this will cut the zoo off from the city and surrounding community. This security theater is expensive, ineffective and will disproportionately affect marginalized groups.
Today the National Zoo is an open public space and an integrated, walkable part of Rock Creek Park and the Woodley Park and Adams Morgan neighborhoods with 13 entrances. The proposal would fence off ten of these and gate the remaining three, which will make what is now an accessible public attraction and thoroughfare into a less inviting, less vibrant place. Making the zoo harder to reach on foot or by bicycle by local visitors will substantially alter the special role the zoo has played in the lives of generations of DC families. There are better ways to use our tax dollars to keep the zoo safe.
This is not a done deal. The Smithsonian Institute sent this plan to the National Capital Planning Commission which will discuss the fences at their meeting on July 12th. The agency is still taking comments. Send a message that we will not sacrifice inclusive urbanism for a show of security.