Metro Weekly

Animal Planet: Gay Day at the National Zoo

Gay Day at the Zoo brings animal lovers together for a day of fun and community spirit

Gay Day at the National Zoo – Photo: Randy Shulman

“I have kind of a panda obsession,” admits Jonathan Gilad. “I actually love all kinds of furry animals, so I love to visit the Furry Rodent House.”

Simmer down. Gilad isn’t referring to a new gay night at a bar, but rather to time spent at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. It makes sense when you learn he’s the co-chair of the DC Center’s 5th Annual Gay Day at the Zoo.

In the run-up to the event, scheduled for Saturday, May 7, Gilad and co-chair, Elijah Bair, are selling $20 turtle-green T-shirts at Trade, Number Nine, and Town Danceboutique. (The shirts are also available for purchase online.)

“The T-shirts distinguish who’s there for the event,” says Bair, adding that sales have shot up as the date nears. “It’s just a nice event to get people outside and show some pride.”

Because this year’s Gay Day at the Zoo coincides with International Family Equality Day, Gilad and Bair have tried to make the event more family-friendly by organizing a scavenger hunt with prizes.

“For many, Gay Day at the Zoo is their first LGBT event,” says Bair. “And it’s more comfortable to go with a group of people.” To that end, various Center-sponsored groups have planned “Meetups,” a schedule of which will be posted on the organization’s website in advance. “It’s just an enjoyable experience to be surrounded by people who love you and aren’t judgmental of you.”

Gay Day at the Zoo is Sunday, May 7, from Noon to 5 p.m. at the Smithsonian National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. For more information, or to purchase T-shirts, visit

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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