Friday, March 20, 2009

Southeast Road Trip Day 5

This morning we checked out and drove around most of Maryland trying to find a post office! We finally found one and then drove into the city headed for the National Zoo. After a bit of trouble finding the parking lot, we got there just a few minutes before noon. The Giant Panda exhibit was at the other end of the zoo, so we decided to head there quickly and then take our time coming back. As we headed up, we saw the Przewalski's Horses and the Orangutan. Then we came to the Giant Panda exhibit! They were all three awake and walking around their enclosures. I think the first one we saw was Tian Tian (his name means "more and more") and he was eating bamboo. He'd had enough of us staring, so he went up towards the building after I got some good video. Then we walked up the bridge and saw Mei Xiang, who was resting towards the top of her enclosure and lastly we saw three year old Tai Shan, who is nearly the size of an adult.
We continued on and saw the Red Pandas eating, the Asian Small-clawed Otters sleeping in a pile, a Fishing cat and the Clouded Leopard, who was soon to be a father! Check out the clouded leopard cubs that were born at the Zoo just four days after we visited. We went inside the Small Mammal House and saw lots of Golden Lion Tamarins, Golden Lion-headed Tamarins (I guess there is a difference), Elephant-shrews and Naked Mole Rats. I think my favorite small mammal was the Prehensile-tailed Porcupine. There was a zookeeper in the enclosure and she was reaching out to them. They were moving really slowly towards her, like sloths or something.We saw the Sumatran Tiger and the male African Lion, who grunted and growled as I filmed him. Lastly, we saw Prairie dogs, Cows and Alpaca before leaving.
When we left, we drove on Rock Creek Parkway past the Watergate Hotel, the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Memorial. We drove over the Potomac again and went by the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial before hitting rush hour traffic on 395. Traffic stayed bad onto 95 and most of the way through Virginia. Once we hit North Carolina, all we saw were signs for hotels and outlet malls, I guess because it's on the way if you drive to Florida from just about anywhere in the Northeast. We got to our hotel in Lumberton, North Carolina after dark.

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