Recently I took my daughter to Washington DC for a quick overnight trip. We stayed in the Dupont Circle area at a lovely hotel called the Churchill, named of course for Winston himself. I loved this location because we could walk outside and down the street and be surrounded by great restaurants and shops. I highly recommend it.
But the best part of staying there was the Smithsonian National Zoo , which was also just a short walk from the hotel. For the most part, I love zoos, but I have to admit, I have mixed feelings about them at times. I feel bad for animals that are stuck in captivity and should be running free in their native element. Have you ever looked at the face of an orangutan and just thought, “boy that guy really looks unhappy?”
Any feelings of reservation for zoos went out the window at this place. First of all, the animals have a larger amount of land to roam in their habitats than I have seen at other zoos. They seemed healthy and comfortable, at least from my vantage point. The conditions were clean and well cared for.
But also exciting is the fact that this zoo also has over 3,200 acres of land in Virgina where they literally breed endangered species and try to bring these precious animals back into our world. At the zoo, you could see various examples of these animals, like the cheetahs, the oryx and the Przewalski Horse, which looks like a pony but it’s really a horse. While the cheetah is endangered and at risk, this horse is technically extinct in the “real world.” I thought that was really cool that we could not only see animals we wouldn’t see anywhere else, but we could learn about them and learn to help them. The zoo takes a bold stance in explaining to people in clear terms how some animals, like the cheetah, are endangered because of poachers using the animals for fur. It was eye-opening to see the facts in front of you and meaningful to be able to explain this to a child.
Our favorite part of the zoo was the giant pandas. The 2 1/2 year old baby of the three came right over to where we were standing and put on a show for us, chomping away at his bamboo endlessly. He was so cute!
If you can’t make it to DC, they actual have live animal cams, including a panda cam, that you can view from your desktop.