Tag Archives: red panda

USA 2019 – 08 Pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC (2019-10-26) Nature and Animal Attractions | Photo Gallery 22 FEB 2021

So having spent the previous afternoon happily exploring the area around the national mall, taking in architecture, statues and so, so many memorials, I changed the pace a little the next morning and headed out northwest via Washington D.C.’s relatively pretty subway stations, exiting at Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan and then taking the short uphill stroll to stop in front of the concrete lion guarded entrance of the National Zoological Park, aka the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Located at the sprawling Rock Creek Park, the National Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, having been founded all the way back in 1889. Covering an area of 66 ha, this zoo is even larger than the immense San Diego Zoo (40 ha) which I visited back in 2016, and is home to around 2700 or so animals, spread over 390 different species – a fifth of which are on either the globally endangered or threatened species list. (And yes, because this is part of the Smithsonian Institution, entrance to the zoo is completely free.)

So as you might imagine then, with that amount of space and animals at its disposal, the National Zoo demands a fair bit of your time to take a stroll through. The zoo experience is made up of a whole heap of interconnected themed spaces that you can move between, including the various trails like the Asia Trail, Elephant Trails, the American Trail, Amazonia, and Lion and Tiger Hill, as well as big standalone exhibits like the Giant Panda Habitat, the Great Ape House, Think Tank, Cheetah Conservation Station, Gibbon Ridge, the Reptile Discovery Center, the Bird House, Lemur Island and the Small Mammal House. There’s also the children specific attraction The Kids’ Farm – useful if just seeing all these wonderfully exotic creatures isn’t quite enough to hold their attention for the full day!

Discounting the African species which we have enough of back home, the National Zoo definitely held a couple of personal animal highlights for me – like the incredibly floofy Giant Panda, the goofy looking Sloth Bear, and the stoic, powerful American Bison. The Orangutans were delightful (the “O Line” crossing is wonderful to behold), Arapaimas incredibly unusual in shape and size, and of course, just as they did for us back in Kyoto, the adorable Red Pandas totally stole the show.

In addition to all the exotic (for me) animals on display, given that Washington D.C. was starting to move into Autumn territory at the time of my visit, the incredible mass of trees that also call the zoo home were all starting to undergo their colour transformation – leading to an even greater visual experience for me seeing as this isn’t a spectacle that I ever get to witness back home in the Mediterranean climate profile that is Cape Town. (In other words, I took a LOT of time wandering about the zoo with a very big goofy grin on my face.)

The weather was nice and cool, the clouds meant that it wasn’t a sweaty affair, and a little cloudburst served to inject a little extra entertainment into the proceedings. And of course I took photos. Lots and lots of photos…

Japan 2014 – 33 The Kyoto Municipal Zoo in Sakyo, Kyoto (2014-10-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 DEC 2015

So with a Goddess of Mercy, dolphins and trains now spotted on the day, Ryan and I next decided to take a lengthy march through to the Kyoto Municipal Zoo, passing by the massive red torii gate of the Heian-jingu shrine in the process.

IMG_20141007_150232 massive red torri gate of heian-jingu shrine, kyoto, japan

Kyoto Municipal Zoo is a small 3.4-hectare zoo located in Sakyō ward, Kyoto. Established in 1903, Kyoto Municipal Zoo is the second oldest zoo in Japan, after Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.

Although facilities have been added and removed over the years, most animals are housed in concrete and steel cages constructed between 30 and almost 90 years ago – which is probably what made this one of our least favourite experiences whilst in Japan.

IMG_20141007_161915 giraffe sculpture at kyoto municipal zoo, kyoto, japan

The zoo as mentioned is reasonably small, yet still houses quite a large variety of animals, ranging in size from big to small. Our favourite without a doubt was the cute as a button red panda, but sadly it was the bigger animals that were at the heart of our discomfort.

While South African zoos tend to be spacious with large enclosures for the animals, this zoo was the complete opposite: A lion pacing about in a tiny concrete room, an elephant stuck on a concrete slab – well, you kind of get the picture.

IMG_20141007_154642 elephant getting a wash at kyoto municipal zoo, kyoto, japan

Look, zoos are always controversial for this very fact, but upsetting enclosures aside, we did enjoy viewing animals that we weren’t necessarily familiar though – though of course, being from South Africa meant that all their main exhibits were things that we already ARE quite familiar with!

IMG_20141007_152431 animal enclosures at kyoto municipal zoo, kyoto, japan

There was a quite a few areas to explore (though some were closed due to construction), and despite my by now aching feet, it was a good little excursion.

Naturally, I didn’t take very many photos at all (fences and glass don’t usually allow for decent photos), so you’ll just have to take my word that they do in fact have around 721 animals from 175 species there!

[subvertedgallery link=”file” columns=”7″ ids=”36149,36150,36151,36152,36153,36154,36155,36156,36157,36158,36159,36160,36161,36162,36163,36164,36165,36166,36167,36168,36169,36170″]

Once we eventually made it back to our lodgings, I put my feet up and drank beer, whilst Ryan plodded out again for the night. Seriously, the man is a walking machine I tell you!

Related Link: Kyoto Municipal Zoo