From the Executive Director's Desk

A Big Decision

February 4, 2021

You may have already seen the news, and if you have, you know that I'm writing this blog post with a heavy heart. FONZ and the Zoo have dissolved our partnership. Beginning this spring, FONZ won't be actively involved at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.

This very difficult decision was the result of significant analysis and discussions by FONZ, the Zoo and the Smithsonian as we struggle with the enormously difficult COVID-19 financial pressures. This pandemic is challenging in so many ways, and FONZ is another organization impacted by the dramatic loss of revenue.

The Zoo will be taking over the responsibilities held by FONZ and we wish them all the best. We're working with them now on transitioning FONZ members, some FONZ work and some FONZ team members for a strong running start.

The Future of FONZ

The FONZ team is also working on reimagining ourselves and thinking through what our organization could look like on a smaller scale, outside of the Zoo, that still allows us to fulfill our mission to save species and spark the next generation of conservationists. Even though we won't be at the Zoo, our passion for our mission is just as strong and, honestly, we're excited about what we can become.

Though over the last few months I've come to terms with the fact that there was no saving our place at the Zoo, I still slip back into sadness. It's hard to think we won't be at the Zoo to continue the programs and services that we have provided to Zoo guests, our members, our education families, local schools, our event attendees and the community for these last 63 years. But when I do, I lift myself up by thinking about what we can become and what more we can give back to the community, to the children who love animals, to the NZP/SCBI wildlife experts we've come to know and love, and to endangered animals in need here and around the globe. There's a lot to get excited about there, and the team I have here is second to none to rise to this important opportunity.

Next Steps

I hope you will follow along as we transform ourselves, and I'd love your thoughts and ideas along the way. You can reach me at, and I'll stay connected to anyone who wants to be part of this journey through this blog. If you're interested in learning more now, the FAQ covers the decision and plan forward in more detail

Wishing you and your families health and peace, and we look forward to continuing our wonderful partnership in the next phase of FONZ.

—Lynn Mento, Executive Director

Read the FAQs