Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Exploring Washington, DC with Kids – Part 4

Photo credit: National Zoo

The National Zoo is truly a great treasure and it’s no secret that it’s a great outing for all kids – fresh air, wild animals, learning exhibitions and more. There is so much to see that very time we go we discover something new – like the O Line for orangutan crossings. On a recent visit with friends from out of town, we went at just the right time. Between the hours of 11am-2pm, the orangutans clamber up towers to high platforms and swing across the ropes between two ape houses. These animals are larger than you think so standing underneath the lines while they cross the ropes high above you, without any netting or any kind of barrier between you and the animal, will leave your mouth agape and your eyes fixated on the agile grace of these massive animals. The zoo writes on the brochures that the orangutans don’t ever fall but any reassurance of this fact is hardly recalled when witnessing the crossing as they occur because it hardly seems possible that they never fall!

I not only loved watching this but I love the idea that the zoo gives them such wide freedom of movement and a choice. Between certain hours they are free to travel the O Line and decide where they want to sleep. Such great care and consideration for the animal’s natural behavior is a great model for other (not so considerate) zoos around the world.

Another great example of the zoo’s animal care and species preservation efforts is the Asian Elephant habitat. It is currently under construction, but for a great reason…

The zoo wants to build “A new, expanded home…where our elephants will receive the exercise, shelter, and stimulation they need to breed and grow into a multi-generational herd.

A great high vantage point for little ones (even though M is more interested in humans).

But even though sections of the elephant habitat is under construction, there is still plenty of space for the animals to roam. The overhead bridge over the habitat is our favorite spot at the zoo. One time we saw an elephant rolling around in the pond below dunking it’s head in and out of the water! I think I had more fun watching it than the kids did.

Right below the elephants is the Giant Panda house and habitat. Sometimes we get lucky and see them, sometimes we’re not, and there’s always a large crowd. Check with a zoo volunteer about their feeding time(s) and you can watch them sitting inside the panda house munching on bamboo.

Not too disappointed in missing the real thing when this sculpture is still lovable.

I have to mention the water misters throughout the zoo grounds. In summer months you can turn the misters on to cool off. It is so fun for kids and often turns out to be the main attraction. If you can’t locate one, just listen for loud screeching and screaming kids and you’ll find them running around getting misted, so fun.

These are our favorite parts of the zoo but there is much more to see. You can easily spend an entire day there. If you cant’ get to the Nation Zoo, you can still watch some of the animals from the comfort of your home on the zoo’s live web cams. Check it out!

The zoo is easily accessible to visitors via public transportation. There are two DC Metrorail stops within easy walking distance. Note: the “Cleveland Park” stop is an easier walk and will take you pass a Starbuck’s coffee shop on the way to the zoo entrance, particularly nice for parents if you go early. The zoo grounds opens at 6am (yawn).

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8 comments on “Exploring Washington, DC with Kids – Part 4

  1. island traveler
    June 19, 2012

    A trip to remember. I hope to visit this beautiful State one day…and yes, the Zoo! Fun pics.

  2. Ana Gaby
    June 19, 2012

    I looove the National zoo. The only thing I don’t like is pushing a stroller uphill after we are done looking at all the animals and both baby and mommy are exhausted. On my defense last time I was there I was pregnant so that’s why I think I couldn’t bear the walk up hahhaa….. Enjoy as much of DC as you can! I know I miss it!

  3. cravesadventure
    June 19, 2012

    I was hoping for a visit to the Zoo – thanks for sharing! Have a Great Day!

    • Wanderlustress
      June 19, 2012

      I wish I had more pictures but we end up chasing the kids around most of the time that we’re there. Still, it’s such a great place. Have you been?

  4. miojocamara
    June 19, 2012

    Beautiful a touching. Thanks.

    • Wanderlustress
      June 19, 2012

      I’m glad you liked it. Most zoos are disturbing so I really commend the ones that try there best to educate the visitors and work on species conservation. I guess for me it justifies caging animals up for a good reason.

  5. libbyfosterpaul
    June 19, 2012

    I just started a blog and stumbled on your entertaining and travel wise blog. I am leaving tomorrow for India to spend five weeks training teachers and modeling lessons in classrooms in a nonprofit school. I have been teaching for 26 years and recently decided to spend my summers supporting teachers in the developing world. I would love to keep in touch while you are in Laos. Let me know if there is a school where I could offer my services. Thanks,Libby Paul
    My blog is : teacharoundtheworld.org

    • Wanderlustress
      June 19, 2012

      What terrific and much needed work you are doing! Nice to meet you. I will definitely keep my eye out for a school in Laos. There is such a great need there. Thank you for stopping by.

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