07/22/14 12:46pm

Photo by Abby Wood, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“Mei Xiang is celebrating her sweet 16 today in style: with daughter Bao Bao by her side and a fruitsicle in her paws! Mei was born in 1998 at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province. She arrived at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 200. Both mother and daughter celebrated Mei’s day by playing, relaxing, and eating (lots) of bamboo. The Zoo’s Nutrition team even made a panda-friendly cake for the occasion!”

07/17/14 4:15pm

Photo Credit: Connor Mallon, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“We are very sad to announce that our elderly Sulawesi macaque, Spock, was humanely euthanized this morning. He was 27 years old. Zoo visitors may remember Spock as the macaque who interacted with them by lip-smacking, a typical macaque greeting. He often spent time basking in the sun in his outdoor exhibit.

Like many elderly animals, Spock had arthritis in his knee and ankle joints. In 2003 and 2004, Zoo veterinarians performed orthopedic surgery and stabilized the affected areas with pins and screws, thereby increasing his mobility. Zoo staff also altered Spock’s outdoor and indoor enclosure to maximize his comfort and mobility. Spock was recently diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. Veterinarians worked with Zoo nutritionists to manage his diabetes with medicine and diet modifications. Keepers and veterinarians closely monitored Spock for any signs of discomfort or worsening of his diabetic condition. In the past few months, they observed a significant decrease in his mobility, appetite and weight.”

07/14/14 3:40pm

Photo: Abby Wood/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo’s Nicole MacCorkle:

“Bao Bao is participating in regular training sessions with her keepers, but as always, only on her terms. On the days when she’s focused, we make real progress—we build on old behaviors she has mastered, and learn new behaviors.

One behavior we have been continually building on is targeting. Bao Bao has been touching her nose to the target since she was about 5 months old. Now she can follow the target partway inside from the outdoor yard. And she stands on her hind legs when keepers ask. She certainly recognizes her name (when called by familiar voices) but doesn’t reliably respond yet, the way her parents do. As a matter of fact, even when Mei Xiang calls to her by bleating, Bao Bao doesn’t always respond to her! Interestingly, she does follow Mei outside most days, and rarely has to be carried onto the patio by the keepers anymore. We just need to find a way to motivate her to do the reverse in the afternoons. (more…)

07/09/14 4:50pm

“During the summer the giant pandas usually receive a refreshing fruitsicle treat every day. On July 6, 2014, Bao Bao and Mei Xiang each received one before shifting inside for the afternoon. Bao Bao’s fruitsicle is much smaller than Mei’s, but she is showing more interest in solid foods – especially fruitsicle treats.”

07/02/14 1:49pm

Photo via Smithsonian National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“All four red panda pairs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., successfully bred and had cubs this year. Of the 10 cubs, more born at SCBI than any other year, seven have survived.

The latest pair to have cubs was < ahref="http://www.popville.com/2014/01/red-pandas-rusty-and-shama-have-moved-to-virginia/" target="_blank">Shama and Rusty, who are best known to the public. Rusty gained national attention in June 2013 after he escaped from his enclosure on Asia Trail at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Shama, an experienced mother, gave birth to three cubs June 26. This is the first litter Rusty has sired. Keepers had been monitoring Shama closely the past few weeks since her behavior indicated she might be pregnant. Keepers are observing the cubs via a closed-circuit camera, and the cubs appear healthy.

Rusty and Shama’s three cubs join three other litters born within the past five weeks. Two cubs were born May 27 to female Yanhua and male Sherman. It was their first litter. (more…)

06/26/14 10:50am


Not quite as awesome as the Van Gogh cards but still pretty sweet.

From a press release:

“The Smithsonian’s National Zoo is celebrating 125 years of welcoming visitors from all over the world to one of Washington’s most popular tourist destinations, and Metro is joining in the fun by offering four limited-edition Zoo Anniversary SmarTrip Cards.

Each reusable plastic card comes pre-loaded with $8 in stored fare value for a total price of $10 and features popular zoo baby residents, including giant panda cub Bao Bao, Sumatran tiger cubs Bandar and Sukacita, African lion cubs, and a gray seal pup named Rona.

The commemorative cards are now available online at www.wmata.com/fares/smartrip and at Metro-operated sales offices. They will be accessible in all Metrorail station dispensers by July 4, while supplies last.

On July 4, Metro staff will also be available for hand-sales of the limited-edition cards at the following stations: Shady Grove, Greenbelt, Largo Town Center, New Carrollton, Branch Avenue, Franconia-Springfield, Vienna and Pentagon City.

Metro riders can present their Zoo SmarTrip card at the Zoo’s three main gift shops for 10% off all purchases.”

06/19/14 11:10am

Photo: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From Change.org:

“The Smithsonian Institution—the world’s largest museum and research complex—includes the National Zoological Park, 19 museums and galleries, and nine research facilities around the world. This Petition arises from a recent announcement made by the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park.

On Monday, June 15, 2014, the National Zoo issued this press release, announcing the public had exactly six days to visit the Invertebrate House before it would close permanently.

Public reaction has not been favorable. One article reporting on the closing stated this:

“Having the nation’s zoo suddenly and with little public warning close a long-standing exhibit is unprecedented. Public comments on the Museum’s Facebook page are overwhelmingly shocked and negative, including some from volunteers that work at the Zoo.”

Wired’s Gwen Pearson spoke with Zoo Director Dennis Kelly, who said the Zoo plans to open a “Hall of Biodiversity” in 20 years (!) in which invertebrates may or may not be exhibited live. Meanwhile, no plans have even been made for the empty space occupied by the Invertebrate House, and Pearson reports “the building space the Invertebrate exhibit occupied will remain empty for the foreseeable future; the only plans are to clean the facility up.”

The Zoo recently completed a $52 million renovation of the Elephant House, and another $53 million project to house pandas. These investments promote two species, albeit highly visible and popular ones, while invertebrates make up 97% of all described species on earth, according to Pearson’s article.

Over two million people visit the National Zoo each year. Long-time visitors have fond and educational memories of their visits to the Invertebrate House, which exhibits cuttlefish, octopi, blue crabs, anemones, orb-weaving spiders, honeybees, leaf-cutter ants, and butterflies, among many other species. (more…)

06/16/14 11:40am

Photo: Jessie Cohen/Smithsonian’s National Zoo

From the National Zoo:

“The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Invertebrate Exhibit, home to dozens of small aquatic and terrestrial species without backbones, will close to the public Sunday, June 22. The last day to visit the Invertebrate House is Saturday, June 21.

“This difficult decision is not a reflection of the importance of invertebrates or how we feel about them,” said Dennis Kelly, Zoo director. “The exhibit has been a hidden gem cared for by passionate and expert staff. But this was a necessary decision for the financial and operational health of our organization.”

Closing the Invertebrate Exhibit permits the Zoo to reallocate funding, staff and resources to other areas of the Zoo that need attention. With overall costs escalating, the Zoo must adapt its activities and programs to live within its existing budget while continuing excellent animal care and planning for the future. (more…)

06/04/14 4:45pm

Photo courtesy Friends of the National Zoo

From a press release:

Tickets are now on sale for the National Zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo event, held on Thursday, July 17, 2014 from 6 to 9 p.m. Hosted by Friends of the National Zoo, more than 60 breweries from around the world will travel to D.C. for the beer tasting extravaganza, all in support of wildlife conservation. Local favorites such as Port City Brewing Company and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will be joined by popular microbreweries including DC Brau Brewing Company, Brooklyn Brewery, Flying Dog Brewery, and New Belgium Brewing Company. (more…)