500 Words on……the Zoo.
When Jeremiah was a few weeks away from his seventh birthday, he requested that we go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Although we live a few hundred miles from Washington, DC, and our budget is comprised of a single income, Jim and I decided to see if we could make it happen for him. We found a campground a few miles away, in Maryland, and realized that we could stay for a lot less than what a hotel would cost us.
So, the early part of September found us in our nation’s capital. We toured the Air and Space Musuem, of course, and the Natural History Museum. We ate lunch at the National Museum of the American Indian, and admired their gardens. We rode the Metro, and toured the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden.
We visited the Capitol Building – the tour was not suitable for 7 and 4 year olds, and the Bush era security required us to ditch all our food and even the water in our bottles – but we got to see the sculpture by Vinnie Ream that we had come for, and we learned a few things, and feasted our eyes on the art and splendor.
The children rode the carousel, played at the camp playground, and loved the subway…
And, on the last day of our three day stay, we went to the National Zoo. Although Jeremiah loves animals, this part of the trip was for Annalise. From the time she was one, she has loved all primates, and gorillas in particular.
We had visited a zoo in Syracuse the summer before, where we saw primates of several varieties. Gorillas, though, are large, and endangered, and not easy to house, and there were none to see close to us. The National Zoo, also famed for its giant pandas (which we never got around to seeing), has a gorilla family.
So we entered at the archway, and spent half a day wandering the Zoo. We saw the hippos and elephants, first, and Jeremiah got to touch a hippo tooth. Then we found the gorillas – Annalise was awed and a bit intimidated by their bigness and closeness. We watched a magnificent silverback picking grass and carefully separating the blades he wanted to eat.
There were orangutans who had the freedom to pass between two buildings on a specially designed device known as the O-Line. We watched them pass over us with a combination of fascination and nervousness, although there was an electrified line running beneath, to prevent descent.
We enjoyed giant tortoises and other reptiles, tigers-SO-close on the other side of a Plexiglass barrier, lynxes and wolves. We watched a prairie dog village, and giraffes. The entire trip had been very hot, and we had spent the majority of it out-of-doors.
So, when we found ourselves outside the invertebrate house, we ducked inside for the shade and the cool. There, both children were enchanted by jellyfish and anemomes, coral and Madagascar hissing cockroaches, the bird-eating and orb-weaving spiders, and a little crab that followed Lise as she moved from one side of its tank to the other.
We spent some time in the Think Tank, where primate intelligence was studied through a series of activities and experiments, and where there were many specimens for Annalise, especially, to explore.
In the invertebrate house, we were able to watch the exhibit curators preparing specimens in a well-equipped lab.
While we were outside, we enjoyed sprayer stations set up for cooling guests on hot days, and the kids enjoyed the prairie dog playground before we headed back to the campground for one last sleep before heading home.
- Space shuttle Enterprise arrives in New York (boston.com)
- National Zoo marks 40 years of pandas in DC (kansascity.com)
- Fast Facts on the Space Shuttle Enterprise (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Five Favorite Places to Visit with Kids in Washington D.C. USA (growingracelife.wordpress.com)
- 5 Must-See Washington D.C. Museums (scholasticablog.com)
- Shuttle Enterprise arriving at JFK (big photos) (boingboing.net)