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They’re a bunch of animals in DC!

- Meghan


No, I’m not talking about the wild college kids in Adams Morgan, I’m referring to the Smithsonian National Zoo! This past week while I was visiting my sister, brother-in-law and niece I didn’t have too much time for sightseeing, but I did manage to squeeze in a few key “touristy” activities.

One sunny afternoon I set off with my niece in the stroller to another Smithsonian, but this one was slightly different than the museums we had visited before! Due to the fact that the National Zoo is part of the Smithsonians, admission is free which makes not visiting the zoo while in DC almost inexcusable! The first animals we spotted were the adorable prairie dogs. These curious little animals are very popular with small children! We then moved on to the lions. It was a pretty warm day so the lions were trying to keep cool in the shade but we were still able to see them from a distance. Our next stop was the Think Tank but on our way we spotted an orangutan. The National Zoo recently installed what they call the “Orangutan Transportation System” or “O-Line.” The O-Line is a series of towers connected by cables that connects the Think Tank building and the Great Ape House. This allows the orangutans to explore to their heart’s content and at the same time give all of the zoo’s visitors a big thrill to see an orangutan hanging above them! We eventually made it to the Think Tank. This is an indoor exhibit showing how animals think. They have molds of different animal’s brains to compare the different sizes and other exhibits to help explain animal’s thinking. To learn more about Think Tank visit http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ThinkTank/Exhibit/default.cfm.

Our second to last stop was the Elephant House. I had never seen elephants so close up. It was breathtaking how huge they are! Last spring the National Zoo began the construction of Elephant Trails. This will consist of a brand new indoor habitat that will allow the elephants to roam freely in any kind of weather. Another part is the Elephant Exercise Trek which will allow the elephants to wander around outside in a wooded area and to allow them to forage as they would in the wild. I’m really looking forward to going back to check it out when it’s completed! Our very last stop was to see the pandas. Similar to the lions, the pandas were trying to keep cool so we were only able to see one from a distance. We’ll have to go back on a cooler day to see them close up. The National Zoo is definitely a must-see when visiting Washington DC. It would be a good day trip to break up seeing all of the historical aspects of the city. All of the visitor information is on the National Zoo Website: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/default.cfm

Earlier in the week, I was lucky enough to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the Washington Monument. I had never been in DC for the Fourth of July festivities, and boy do they celebrate! There were many free concerts and events open to the public. I wasn’t able to attend any of these but I was able to catch the fireworks that began at 9 p.m. You could definitely feel the patriotism in the air. If there is one place to experience Independence Day, it is definitely Washington DC.

Well enough about DC, there’s endless things to tell about! Next I will be blogging about my trip to Belgium in the Spring of 2008!

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