I wasn't surprised by the variety of animals, their enclosures or how well they are kept. In fact, I fully expect that this zoo would be one of the best in the world.
What surprised me most is the educational opportunities that the zoo provides for its patrons and for the world in general.
I tend to read everything I can get my eyes on.
So our visit naturally includes my reading every sign, every post, every pamphlet. In fact, it was a bit of a problem since we were supposed to get to the end of the trail at some point so that we could go on to another place.
Richard rushed me, and hurried me along, and came back for me, and well, didn't give me time enough to read everything. I mean, how am I supposed to remember the name of this quirky bird if I didn't even have time to read the poster, connect the live bird to the picture and tell someone? See, that's how I learn. I read, make a connection, and then teach. So we arrive at the famed panda bear exhibit.
I have a special connection to panda....first off, they're just cute and darling and cuddly. But also, I once had a stuffed toy panda as a child. My panda was accidentally left in a train station and my dad, who was trying to catch up to the rest of the family, saw the toy bear on a bench and recognized it. He didn't pick it up but, the story goes, he knew he was getting close when he saw my bear, and indeed, found us just a short time later.
So, I had to read all about the near extinction of the pandas in China, how the National Zoo has helped that government in recovery efforts, and how those efforts helped the two government to begin talks and work toward peace. Isn't that a great story for a sweet, peaceful little bear? Yes, well, to get the whole story (and I did) I had to throw a southern girl hissy fit.....but it work! Want to read it for yourself? Here it is! The link will take you to the zoo website page for the giant panda center. There you can get e-newsletters and watch live action on the panda cam.
We loved the panda exhibit, but I do believe we spent the most time in the aviary buildings.
There are both an indoor and an outdoor building, and the variety of birds is pretty special and beautiful.I'll close with a recommendation that if you have the opportunity to visit Washington with children (or without) visit the National Zoo.