Lou and I went down to the National Zoo yesterday, one of the great perks of living in this metropolitan D.C. area. I really wanted to see the baby Giant Panda, who’s now four months old and beginning to explore her world. Because I’m a Friend of the National Zoo, we got to go into the panda house early to try to see her. The bad news was that the baby panda, Bao Bao, slept all day in an un-visible location as far as cameras were concerned (except the “panda-cam”). I did go back twice to see her; in the interim, she’d moved into another almost un-visible position. On tiptoe, I could see a little bit of her fur.
I’d forgotten that they eat bamboo just like their large black-and-white relatives.
Here’s a report on the Asian Small-clawed Otters. There are eleven of them in the enclosure, two parents and nine offspring. Many of them were clustered close to the far corner of their open area, which happened to be near where we were walking. They were all there for a potty break! One by one, they took turns coming to the edge of a very muddy area, turning their rear ends toward the center of the gooey mud, and peeing and pooping. Then each would stamp as if saying “That’s that,” and run off to their big cave. I was stunned, open-mouthed, amazed. Okay, that was evidently the latrine, but that they all went together and then took turns “using the facilities” blew me away. I did not of course take photos of them, as I would not want pictures of me in a similar situation.
The beautiful Fishing Cat, an endangered wild cat, reminded me of my own dear Ellie-cat of blessed memory. The cat crouched in a cave that provided it a viewing station above a pool full of goldfish.The cat, looking a bit larger than a big domestic cat, hunkered and seemed to watch us and the bright fish with about the same level of indifference. Occasionally it even seemed to doze.
I was thrilled to see it because when we’ve been down the Asia Trail before, we never saw the cat. Winter is better.
Luck is the best thing to have and today we had it. We stood before the enclosure of the Clouded Leopard and watched her gnawing at a big bone. Then she went on alert, ears pricked and eyes intent. She jumped onto a tree branch at the front of her enclosure, evidently watching for something. She’d recognized a keeper’s voice, and knew full well a food treat was approaching. The young keeper’s long lance speared a fish that he held out to her.
The cat leaped onto the chain link fence, he poked the fish toward her between the links, and she grabbed it and pulled it off the lance. Wow. We saw her be fed three fish, feeling very very lucky to have been there at just the right time.
So even if I got the merest glance at the top two inches of Bao Bao’s fur as she slept, I think we had a great day at the zoo!