Metro Weekly

Gay Day at the Zoo: Cubs, Otters and Bears. Oh My!

Gay Day at the Zoo brings the District's gay community together for an animal-inspired fundraiser

Zoo Animals - Photo: Angela Waye
Zoo Animals – Photo: Angela Waye

You’ll know them by their T-shirts.

Last year, the National Zoo was beset by a sea of red as members of the LGBT community congregated and took over the park. Every stand, every exhibit, every walkway was filled with a smattering of red T-shirts as people posed for selfies and made their way along the zoo’s many winding trails.

This year, organizers of the fourth annual “Gay Day at the Zoo” are hoping you’ll see green. Bright green.

Organizers are selling the Kermit-hued “Gay Day” T-shirts, complete with an affectionate pair of cartoon pandas, for $15 each, with proceeds directly benefitting The DC Center. Prospective zoo-goers can order their T-shirts online beforehand and pick them up at The DC Center on Saturday, April 30, or on Sunday at the zoo’s main entrance on Connecticut Avenue NW.

The social gathering and fundraising event is the brainchild of Jacob Pring, a local party promoter who was, at the time, volunteering for The DC Center. After the first year was so successful, the LGBT community center made it a permanent fixture — this year, they’re expecting almost 1,000 people to attend.

“It is simply a relaxed, fun day to be at the zoo and be with other members of the LGBT community,” says David Mariner, executive director of The DC Center. “It’s just a great opportunity to be out, enjoy the day, and to be visible in the community.”

As part of Gay Day, various DC Center groups will organize “meet-ups” with their members, starting with Center Aging at 11 a.m., followed by Rainbow Families DC and 495 Bears at noon, Center Bi at 1:30 p.m., and members of GenderQueer DC, Gay District, Women in Their Twenties and Center Global congregating at 2 p.m.

“It’s a great opportunity to connect with some of the groups that meet at the DC Center,” says Mariner. “So if you’re not familiar with the groups that meet here, you can get to know some of those folks.”

Gay Day at the Zoo will take place on Sunday, May 1 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Admission is free of charge. For more information, or to purchase Gay Day at the Zoo T-shirts, visit

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