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Title: And Now Some Happy News From The National Zoo
Source: WAMU 88,5
URL Source: https://wamu.org/story/20/11/04/som ... onal-zoo-during-election-week/
Published: Nov 4, 2020
Author: Elliot C. Williams
Post Date: 2020-11-29 01:10:08 by Gatlin
Keywords: None
Views: 39

Dispatch From The National Zoo:
The Flamingo Chicks And Panda Cub Are Thriving

If you (like me) are watching live election results on one tab, have an unsettling political Twitter thread open in another, and continue scrolling through ridiculous Instagram memes to help you cry laugh through these dark times, it’s likely you won’t get anything done today (or the rest of this week). Here’s another bit of news to keep you distracted: the birds at the National Zoo are doing quite well.

In an Election Day update, the zoo decided to tweet out some pick-me-up info about its bird population. The nearly century-old Bird House exhibit — which, by the way, is being completely renovated for late 2021 — welcomed 34 chicks this summer across 11 different species, thanks to a top-notch team of curators and keepers. Among those new chirping chicks are two flamingos that were born in mid-July and hand-raised by the zoo staff to ensure their survival.

The flamingo chicks are fed six (yes, six!) times a day with pellets and a nutritious formula that simulates the crop milk the parents feed their young (Note: don’t look up videos of this unless you want to add to your election week anxiety). In September, the chicks were strong enough to rejoin the flock of 66 flamingos, and they’re thriving.

But that’s not all the zoo news. In fact, there’s so much news about the new giant panda cub (which WAMU/DCist recently discovered is finally cute) that the zoo compiled a media page with updates every two or three weeks and a lively panda cam. The latest update? The pandas got festive for Halloween.

Tian Tian, the cub’s father, and his mother, Mei Xiang, ate “snack-o- lanterns” made of shredded carrots, applesauce and diluted apple juice in a Jack-O-Lantern-shaped pumpkin mold, while the 10-week-old cub got a whole pumpkin to play with and smell. Later, on Halloween night, Mei Xiang carried the still-unnamed cub to the “playpen,” the cub nursed, and they both fell asleep peacefully.

It’s been a rough year for most institutions during the pandemic, and zoos aren’t immune.

“The amount of losses through the whole zoological community is staggering,” Steven Monfort, the National Zoo’s director told The New Yorker in May. “Most of us are trying to figure out how to get to the spring of 2021 and hope that there’s a vaccine or something so that visitation by then will be more normal … All of us have plans, but we don’t know how well those plans will work.”

The zoo reopened in July, the first of the Smithsonians to do so during the pandemic. They’re requiring that guests wear masks, reserve passes and are limiting the attendance to 5,000 visitors across the park (compared to 20,000 per day before the pandemic.)

Still, it’s a great time to visit the animals in Northwest D.C., says zoo spokesperson Pamela Baker-Masson.

“The weather is getting chilly,” she says over email, “but I think for the days when there is no school (or shortened days), we’re a great destination to get outside and just get a pick-me-up from the animals.”

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