I love the National Zoo. We went here all the time when I was a kid, a teenager, and later when I became a professional aunt. It's free. There are plenty of bathrooms, benches, green spaces, and water fountains. It's free. No wonder we went ALL THE TIME when I was a kid. It's free.
Yes, they charge you for parking, but I took the Metro.
The zoo has changed. They are putting in a giant elephant walk so that the elephants can saunter back and forth from various habitats instead of hanging out in one. They got rid of the fake footprints you used to follow to the exhibits (panda paws to the pandas, bird feet to the bird house, flippers to the seals, etc.). The place is still full of Mennonites (not Amish - you can tell they're not Amish because they are at the zoo and texting). The sign, "Coins Kill" which used to show a seal's stomach full of quarters is gone. Now it's a sign about plastic bags and the damage they are doing to the environment.
I have to give the sign-makers at the National Zoo credit. One sign shows a bird laying on its back with it's head turned in a way which suggests its neck is broken: "This bird isn't dead." the sign reads. "This is just how they like to sun themselves." Just when I'm thinking that someone didn't hose down a cage I encounter a sign, "What's that smell? It's the Maned Wolf!"
They have two sloth bears now and are very proud of them. These bears are not very slothful, they just got stuck with that name - probably from some Western explorer in Asia (where the sloth bear hails from).
I saw the beavers being fed! You wouldn't think this is a great thing to see, but I got to tell you, it was pretty darn cute. I got some great pictures, and some terrific pictures of meerkats. However, when I try to put a picture on my blog I get an error message. I'm still learning.
Yep, the zoo lived up to all my nostalgia. It was just what I needed to detox from Foreign Service training.