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Monday, June 11, 2012

We're going to the zoo...how about you?


Now that Amber and Pamela are finally here with me in northern Virginia, let the sightseeing begin!...time and weather permitting, that is. This Sunday morning some members of my orientation class, and their families, met up at the entrance to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, better known as the National Zoo. It was a beautiful, if hot and humid, day for an outing and it was a chance to get together with some of my classmates sans suits and ties and avec their children. However, the cohesion of the group soon fell apart, and it wasn't long before people started going off in different directions. Hopefully this won't be a harbinger of things to come for this particular A-100 class.

The great thing about the zoo is that there is no admission charge. The bad thing about the zoo is that there is no admission charge. This means that it's very popular, plus it also results in concession prices that are on the steep side, which is why our lunch consisted of three small hot dogs and a shared cup of lemonade. The next time we visit, we'll remember to pack a lunch and bring our own water.

Amber takes a rest in a shady spot by some bamboo trees while waiting in line to see the pandas. Shades of Taiwan...

Pride of place at the National Zoo goes to its two giant pandas, Mei Xiang 美香 and Tian Tian 添添. Despite having seen the pandas at the Taipei Zoo 臺北市立動物園, Amber wanted to see the pair on view here in D.C. (she also wants me to bid for a post in Chengdu 成都 for panda-related reasons). In Taipei, we didn't have to stand and wait in a long line to see the beasts, but we were ushered through the panda house without being given any time to stop and linger. Here in DC, we were made to stand outside in the hot sun for a long period of time, but once inside the panda house, we could stay as long as we liked. One of them was happily munching on bamboo while we were there, while the other one was just taking it easy:


From the pandas, we checked out a few of the other exhibits. There was the Small Mammal House, with its always-popular meerkats...


...and the Great Ape House, where Amber had a face-to-face encounter with an orangutan:


Amber took advantage of the misters scattered around the zoo

My daughter's favorite exhibit by far, however, and the one that really touched her daddy's heart, was the Reptile Discovery Center. Amber couldn't get enough of the alligators, crocodiles, frogs, lizards, snakes and turtles on hand, excitedly moving from one window to the next. Is my little girl a budding herpetologist?

 A monitor lizard

I certainly don't plan on going wading in the Everglades anytime soon

The great thing about the National Zoo is that there is no admission charge...wait, I've pointed this fact out already. What this means is that for DC-area residents at least, there's no need to rush around seeing everything in order to get your money's worth. What we didn't partake of today we can take in on future visits. And knowing Amber, I'm sure we'll be back soon.

A related musical number that I was unable to insert here through the usual processes
If you recognize this tune and the band that does it, you're not only as old as me, but you have my undying respect.

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