National Zoo’s app directs and connects visitors

The Giant Panda exhibit, one of the zoo\'s most popular, will live-stream on the mobile app. (Courtesy of National Zoo)

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The National Zoo is debuting a mobile app that will help visitors find their way around the park.

The GPS-enabled app lets park visitors find where they are in the park as well as see what animals and demonstrations are nearby. It also makes it easier to find the nearest bathroom and restaurant.

“It’s like a personal zoo in your pocket,” says Rebecca Sohmer, education specialist at the National Zoo.

The app was built off of zookeepers vast knowledge of the species housed in Woodley Park and from the most frequently asked questions staff get from visitors.

“We had a good sense of what we thought would enhance visitor experience. We get a lot of questions of where are the panda, the elephants and the bathrooms,” Sohmer says.

“So, we knew we wanted to make it interactive.”

The app also allows visitors access information about each exhibit and animal at the zoo and see live streams of six of the zoo’s most popular exhibits:

  • Pandas
  • Gorillas
  • Tigers
  • Flamingos
  • Lions
  • Golden lion tamarins

The app is $1.99 from the Apple App Store. An Android version of the app will come out in the next few weeks, according to the zoo.

The zoo’s app also gives visitors the opportunity to take self-guided tours from their phone or create their own custom tours based on what they want to see.

The app was designed with Cortina Productions and XCO Software and funded by the Friends of the National Zoo. Proceeds from app sales go to conservation, research and education programs at the National Zoo, according to Sohmer.

Kids can also take a photo and “zooify” themselves by adding tiger ears, a parrot beak or a lion’s tail, for example, onto their photo.

Of course, visitors can see many of the animals online through the zoo’s webcams.

Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Advertiser Content