Easter Monday at the National Zoo was once an African-American family tradition and is now a historical, multi-cultural Washington family tradition.

As far back as 1891, African-American families would come in their Easter finery to celebrate Easter Monday at the National Zoo. Because the black families weren’t allowed at the White House Easter Egg Roll (or at least met with discouraging hostility), Smithsonian began its own egg roll on Easter Monday. Many of the black housekeepers and employees had to work on Easter Sunday, but they were given the following day off, so the festivities were always held on Monday. The Easter egg roll took place on the zoo’s lion-tiger hill, and a day of picnicking and family time became a D.C. African-American tradition, with attendance reaching a whopping 55,000 in 1919. In 1953, in the Eisenhower administration, Mamie Eisenhower asked during the White House egg roll, "Why were the black children looking through the gates at the white children rolling eggs inside?” She insisted that black children be included the following year.
Though the exclusion of African-Americans from the White House egg roll was a sad byproduct of segregation and racism in this country, Smithsonian began its Easter Monday tradition out of a spirit of inclusion. That spirit is what has perpetuated Easter Monday at the National Zoo as an occasion of celebration, family time, and delighting in the joy of little children, of all colors. This year marks the 127th Easter Monday at the National Zoo. On Monday, April 2, come join this FREE historical family tradition. Here's what's on the 2018 roster! [caption id="attachment_7637" align="aligncenter" width="1400"]Easter Monday at the National Zoo Courtesy nationalzoo.si.edu[/caption]


From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
  • Easter egg hunt
  • Field games
  • Meet the Easter Panda
  • Musical entertainment
Education Booths
  • Big Killers Come in Small Packages | Play a mystery match game, check out virus and DNA models, and learn about the work being done at the National Elephant Herpesvirus Laboratory to help protect elephants.
  • Wildlife Endocrinology | Meet staff from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute's Endocrine Research Lab, participate in interactive activities and learn how wildlife endocrinology helps save endangered species through improved breeding, health, and well-being.
  • Wildlife Health Sciences | Learn about the role of veterinarians and veterinary technicians at the Zoo, and take a look at the materials and equipment needed to conduct examinations on various species throughout the park.
  • Smithsonian's Office of Facilities Management and Reliability | Meet staff from the Zoo's Carpenter, Paint, Plumbing, Metal, Electric and Fire Shops. Learn about the tools of each trade and some of the projects staff have worked on here at the Zoo. Watch an electricity demonstration from the Electric Shop, and see a thermal display from the Reliability Centered Maintenance Division.

Animal Demonstrations

10 a.m.
  • Meet-an-Armadillo​ | Small Mammal House
10:30 a.m.
  • Meet-a-Cheetah Keeper | Cheetah Conservation Station
  • Meet-a-Naked Mole Rat | Small Mammal House
  • Meet-a-Tortoise | Reptile Discovery Center
  • Meet-a-Great Cats Curator | Great Cats
  • Meet-a-Kids’ Farm Animal | Kids’ Farm
11 a.m.
  • Amazon Fish Feeding | Amazonia
  • Asian Small-clawed Otter Feeding* | Asia Trail
  • Elephant Training Demo* | Elephant Outpost
  • Meet-a-Farm Animal | Kids’ Farm
  • Orangutan Keeper Talk* | Orangutan Yard/Inside Great Ape House if raining
11:15 a.m.
  • Sea Lion Demonstration | American Trail
11:30 a.m.
  • Meet-a-Great Ape Keeper | Gorilla Yard/Inside Great Ape House if raining
  • Meet-a-Great Cats Keeper* | Great Cats Circle
  • Meet-a-Red River Hog* | Cheetah Conservation Station
  • Meet-a-Snake | Reptile Discovery Center
12 p.m.
  • Meerkat Feeding | Small Mammal House
  • Rainbow Boa Encounter | Amazonia Field Station
  • Meet-a-Primate Curator | Great Ape House, outside by orangutans/Inside Great Ape House if raining
  1 p.m.
  • Electric Fish Lab Demo| Amazonia Field Station
1:15 p.m.
  • Giant Panda Enrichment Feeding | Panda Exhibit
1:30 p.m.
  • Sloth Bear Demonstration* | Asia Trail
  • Beaver Feeding | American Trail
  • Great Ape Research Talk | Think Tank
  • Enrichment | Small Mammal House
  • Meet-a-Kids’ Farm Keeper | Kids’ Farm
  • Meet-a-Vulture* | Cheetah Conservation Station
2 p.m.
  • Amazon Fish Feeding | Amazonia
  • Meet-a-Lemur Keeper | Lemur Island
  • Meet-a-Great Cats Keeper | Great Cats
  • Meet-a-Zebra | Cheetah Conservation Station
  • Meet-a-Naked Mole-rat | Small Mammal House
2:30 p.m.
  • Meet-a-Lesser Kudu/Ground Hornbill | Cheetah Conservation Station
  • Sea Lion Demonstration | American Trail
3 p.m.
  • Meet-a-Great Cats Curator | Great Cats Circle
  • Meet-a-Reptile | Reptile Discovery Center
*These demonstrations are weather-dependent.  Are you planning to come celebrate Easter Monday at the National Zoo? Have you been in years past? Share your memories in the comments!

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