Smithsonian names director to National Zoo, SCBI

The Smithsonian Institution has picked acting director Brandie Smith to be the director of both the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Smith initially joined the zoo staff in 2008, assisting with the giant panda program. The Smithsonian cites her work as contributing to the birth of three panda cubs: Bao Bao, Bei Bei and Xiao Qi Ji.

“I’m honored to continue working alongside such talented colleagues whose expertise drives innovations in animal care and sustains biodiversity,” Smith said. “Their work inspires future generations of conservationists.”

During her time as deputy director, Smith has overseen the zoo in Rock Creek Park, as well as the sprawling Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.

She has served as acting director since Steven Monfort’s retirement in August.

Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch said that the organization has benefited from her leadership and presence.

“The exceptional work done there is vital to species conservation, animal care and education,” Bunch said, “and I am elated to have Brandie at the helm to help the Smithsonian secure our institutional and global shared future.”

Smith received her doctoral degree from the University of Maryland in behavior, ecology, evolutions and systematics. Before she joined zoo staff, she served as vice president of animal conservation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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