Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Smithstonian's National Zoo

We intended on this trip to Washington D.C. to see the American Art Museum, however never made it there.  Our visit Monday to the Supreme Court building took up our afternoon.  It was a very worthwhile visit, even though by the time we got there the court was not in session.  Instead we sat in the courtroom and listened to a lecture about the workings of the court which was interesting.  There were also exhibits to see and and a film which featured interviews of the justices.  Tuesday was a sunny day, there was no way we were going to spend it in a museum, the National Zoo was our best bet. 
The zoo is noted for a pair of pandas, Tian Tian and Mei Xian.  Their offspring Bao Bao was born in August of 2013.  The pandas were the exhibit we first wanted to see, and we were fortunate to see the toddler out tumbling around some logs.  It wasn't very long, however, that he heard the dinner bell and rushed inside with his mom Mei Xian for lunch. 
We learned at the bird exhibit that in Guam birds are extinct.  The brown tree snake was accidentally introduced to the island via wartime sea and aircraft travel.  Their diet is birds and lizards.  Pictured above is the micronesian kingfisher, a native of Guam and now extinct in the wild.  As an added note here, two-thirds of Hawaii's birds which lived there 2,000 years ago are now gone.  Thei extinction has been due to direct and indirect impact by humans.  Wild populations of kori bustards are also declining because of humans.
This bird is the largest of the flying birds, it is native to Africa.  It has experienced habitat loss because of cattle grazing.  For many years the feathers of this bird was desired by fly fisherman, for making lures.  Zoos now contribute the feathers, which are plentiful when the bird molts, to fisherman.  Someone should have thought of that solution long time ago!
We have seen a variety of enrichment programs for animals at many of the zoos we have visited, however we have not seen gorillas at a computer!  That was a first for us!  We do not think, however, that the gorilla pictured above was doing anything intelligent with the computer.  After awhile he stood up and tried to look behind the screen to see what was causing those colored lights in front of him.
Our warm day spilled into the evening hours so we decided to take in the Valor Concert in honor of Veterans Day at the National Mall.  I had always wanted to take in a happening there- granted this concert was not like the president's inauguration, but I am glad we went.  I think John and I were only a few of the older citizens there, as the music was more for the younger crowd.  Our son Dan thinks it was funny that he took his parents to hear Metallica, and Bruce Springsteen.  There were many more band and singers which we enjoyed, however.  What was more nuts to me was the fact that for security reasons chairs could not be brought in and for us to stand any length of time, after walking around the zoo all day, was a bit of torture for our feet.  That probably is the real reason older people were not in attendance.  Well, they would not have appreciated the marijuana in the air either!  The concert was three hours long, we left after a couple of hours.

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