The Zoo Reopens to the Public

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo.
I do believe it.
I do believe it’s true. – Simon and Garfunkel

Back in March, like just about every other place of interest, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo closed to the public because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Zoo is among the District’s most joyful spots, and its absence was sorely felt. Thankfully, as of Friday, July 24, the Zoo is once again open to visitors, though new safety measures are now in place. These include: a limit on the number of daily guests, a face covering requirement for visitors six and older, one-way paths, and hand-sanitizing stations throughout the park. The Zoo website has details on safety protocols, timed passes and more.

Even the statues wear face coverings at the Zoo these days

Last week, during a Smithsonian family day, I was able to visit the Zoo and spend time with some of its beloved animal residents. Here is some of what I saw.

Orangutans Redd and Batang were out on the O-line. Redd was born to Batang in 2016 and he will be dependent on his mom until he’s around eight, but he seems bigger and more independent than he did pre-lockdown.

Redd and Batang demonstrate social distancing

As a point of comparison, here’s a photo of Batang and Redd from two years ago.

Redd hitches a ride with Batang in May 2018

Moke, a western lowland gorilla who was born at the Zoo in 2018, has also grown during the COVID shutdown. (For photos showing Moke’s earlier adorableness, see our April 2019 post Happy birthday, Moke!)

Moke, up close and personal
Moke chews on a stem

The prairie dogs popped their heads up during my visit as well.

Prairie dog
Prairie dog

Meanwhile, a lioness took a nap. Male lions sleep 18-20 hours a day but females, who are responsible for most of the hunting and raising of cubs, get by on 15-18 hours of down time.

Lounging lioness

Some of the other animals that were out during my visit…

Bennett’s wallaby
Dama gazelle
And a zebra at the end

All images copyright to Miki Jourdan

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