Wednesday, August 17, 2011

National Zoo

On our way home from Virginia we detoured to visit the panda bears at the National Zoo. We love the National Zoo! First of all, it is free, which is always nice. The layout of the park was designed by Olmsted making it extremely visually appealing.

The zoo is trying to keep up with the times. They are currently installing an elephant walk so the elephants can roam "free" in a "natural" setting rather than being cooped up in a circa 1950s space. It will be worth returning in 2013 when that is finished.

This time, though we did not have a lot of time to visit. We parked on one side of Olmsted Way and walked most of the 8/10 of a mile path to the highlight for Ashley: the panda bears! Mei Xiang and Tian Tian  were inside when we visited. I'm not sure if that was because it was raining out, or for some other reason. The rain kept the crowds down (yeah!) and the indoor viewing meant they were a lot closer to us, so we did not complain. While Tian Tian was cute, he was napping. On the other hand, Mei Xiang was eating and mugging for the cameras, so she was a lot more fun to watch. Well, until she decided to take a nap. Since coming home we have watched them on the Panda Cam:

As we did not arrive until after 4, we were pleased to find out the buildings stay open until 6. After leaving the pandas we went to visit the orangutans. The last time we visited the zoo (a few years ago) we were mesmerized by the work being done in the Think Tank: Here scientists and researchers are testing the orangutans' memorization skills. It is fascinating research. Even without the "show," it was still fun watching them play.

The grounds stay open until 8. We still had lots of time to see some other animals. None are as cute (in Ashley's eyes) as the pandas.

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