Brandie Smith is the new director of the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

She assumes her new responsibilities today, November 9.

Brandie Smith with panda in the background
Dr. Brandie Smith

Secretary Bunch announced today that Dr. Brandie Smith has been named the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, effective today, Nov. 9. Smiths has served as acting director of the Zoo since the retirement of Steven Monfort in May.

As director, Smith will oversee the 163-acre Zoo facility in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park and the 3,200-acre SCBI campus in Front Royal, Virginia. She is responsible for the operations of the public Zoo, which has approximately 1.8 million visitors a year, and manages the Zoo’s groundbreaking conservation biology research team that works in more than 30 countries. Smith also oversees educational programs, ticketed events and other public services and programs.

The Zoo has approximately 350 full-time staff positions, including keepers, curators, scientists, guest services and administrative staff, and a combined federal and non-federal budget of $55 million. Major exhibits at the Zoo include Asia Trail, the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat, Cheetah Conservation Station, Elephant Trails, Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Great Cats, American Trail, Amazonia and the Kids’ Farm.  

Smiths joined the Zoo staff in 2008. She helped to revitalize the giant panda program by integrating excellence in animal husbandry with the latest technology in reproductive biology. Her efforts to merge these two disciplines have contributed to the birth of three surviving cubs, Bao Bao in 2013, Bei Bei in 2015 and Xiao Qi Ji in 2020.

Before joining the Zoo, Smith served as vice president of animal conservation at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums from 2004 to 2008. As vice president, Smith coordinated the cooperative conservation and scientific activities of more than 200 member institutions and nearly 1,000 animal programs. She facilitated the Animal Health Committee, Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee, Field Conservation Committee and Animal Data Committee, where she advanced amphibian conservation efforts, stewarded the creation of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, and helped launch the Butterfly Conservation Initiative.

Brandie Smith holds a doctoral degree in behavior, ecology, evolution and systematics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in zoology from Clemson University and a bachelor’s degree in science in biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

“We have seen Brandie’s expertise, talent, and leadership in action at the National Zoo and SCBI for years, including during the past several months as acting director,” said Secretary Bunch. “The exceptional work done at the Zoo and SCBI is vital to species conservation, animal care and education, and I am elated to have Brandie at the helm to help the Smithsonian secure our institutional and global shared future.”

Posted: 9 November 2021
About the Author:

Alex di Giovanni is primarily responsible for "other duties as assigned" in the Office of Communications and External Affairs. She has been with the Smithsonian since 2006 and plans to be interred in the Smithson crypt.

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