Monday, October 17, 2011

The Zoo in Washington D.C.

Part of the Smithsonian Museum, the National Zoological Park in Washington D.C is a popular spot with visitors on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday with the kids. The zoo is open every day, except Christmas day, so whatever time of year you visit, there will always be something to see for free.

The animals live outside most of the time, but when its gets just a little bit too chilly they can retreat inside. Whilst many animals live outside, some, such as the reptiles and invertebrates, live in air-conditioned comfort, as the weather in D.C isn’t like the tropics or the Amazon!

Two oragutans crossing over visitors via the "O Line."
Photo by 350z33, Wikimedia Commons

The zoo is home to around 2,000 animals covering 400 species; a fifth of those are considered to be endangered. Elephants, primates, panda’s, and big cats live alongside smaller mammals and birds; the zoo also has areas to explore such as the Amazon, the Africa savannah, and the rest of North America. As well as all this the zoo also offers a think tank, a place to think about thinking. The think tank is where you can see primates such as orangutans, macaques, they are studied by scientists who look at behaviour and try and determine what they are thinking. There are lots of exhibits to explain how we and other animals think; it certainly makes you think!

As well as animals on land, the zoo also has an Ocean Living theme. This isn’t a place to see dolphins and whales, they’re just too big, but there are seals and sea lions, underwater creatures such as giant clams, as well as crabs and lobsters.

Land and sea both have their individual areas, and so do the birds. Some of the birds live in their very own ‘bird house’; others live in other parts of the zoo. They can enjoy free flight both indoors and outdoors, there’s even a wetlands boardwalk, where you can see waterfowl in their natural habitat.

As well as all the animals, birds, and reptiles, the zoo also has a special programme of events and celebrations throughout the year. Halloween sees Boo at the zoo, Christmastime is made extra memorable with twinkly zoo lights, and of course when there’s a new arrival, there are celebrations and fun activities to take part in. For the budding adventurer, the zoo also runs a 'Snore and Roar' programme where you can spend the night at the zoo! You get to explore the zoo after hours with a keeper by flashlight, and sleep in a tent where you can hear the sounds of the jungle outside.

The zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC, and is open from 10am until 6pm (4.30 between November and March). The good news for visitors with a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle is that there’s parking. The cost is $16 for the first three hours, and $22 for more than three hours, but a word of warning; it can get extremely busy so if you can, its always best reserve a Parking Spot by calling Guest Services.

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