Zoo animals still need to be fed despite government shutdown A visitor stands outside the closed gate to the Smithsonian's National Zoo, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster/Angela N./Flickr)
Zoo animals still need to be fed despite government shutdown
Lexile

Assign to Google Classroom

Hungry pandas don't particularly care whether there's a partial government shutdown.

The pandas are the Washington National Zoological Park's most famous residents. But they still need to be fed as do thousands of other animals. It doesn't matter that the facility closed its gates last Wednesday.

The zoo is part of the Smithsonian network of museums. All stayed open through New Year's Day using pre-existing funds, but that money has now been exhausted.

"We plan to maintain the current level of care for the animals. That's not going to change no matter what," said National Zoo spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer.

There also are animal pregnancies to monitor and poop to be scooped.

That's why more than half the 321 employees of the zoo will remain on the job, as will its associated Conservation Biology Institute.

The zoo, however, will remain closed to the public. Last Wednesday, the normally bustling Connecticut Avenue gateway was locked tight. Just behind the fence, a statue of a giant panda sat alone and neglected. Normally, it would be covered in climbing children. Meyer said the zoo's animal care staff will use the downtime to conduct comprehensive medical checks on the animals.

The zoo also will be shutting down its four popular live animal cams. They show the giant pandas, elephants, lions and naked mole-rats. Meyer said the livestreams don't really need federal employees to run them on a daily basis. But they still "require federal resources."

The panda streams, in particular, are one of the zoo's signature attractions. And the naked mole-rat cam unexpectedly became riveting viewing in recent months amid a bloody battle for supremacy that killed four of the wrinkly rodents before a new queen was established.

The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22. President Donald Trump's demand for money for a border wall with Mexico has been the sticking point in passing funding bills for several government departments. Trump said last Wednesday that the shutdown will last "as long as it takes."

The zoo and the Smithsonian network maintain an unusual relationship with the federal government. They are technically part of the Department of the Interior, and the zoo receives about 70 percent of its operating budget from federal appropriations. But they are run by their own Board of Regents. Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas characterized the network as "quasi-federal."

A similar arrangement governs the Kennedy Center, which is cutting back its public visitation hours. But it is still planning to host its scheduled concerts and performances. Kennedy Center spokeswoman Michelle Pendoley deadpanned: "The show must go on."

With no imminent signs that the shutdown will end soon, Washington's tourism officials are working to ensure that tourists don't cancel their trips entirely. The mayor's office and Washington's tourism bureau have released a list of private museums and off-the-beaten-path attractions for visitors. These sites include the Newseum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Museum of the Bible. It also includes Ford's Theatre and DAR Constitution Hall.

"We know that federal government shutdowns cause many disruptions for both residents and visitors, but we want to remind everyone that while the federal government might be closed, D.C. is open for business," said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The pandas were not available for comment.

Filed Under:  
Assigned 67 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What animals do you most like to see at the zoo? Why?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (11)
  • MariaH-dec
    1/18/2019 - 09:56 a.m.

    When I go to the zoo I love to see the Polar Bears and the Penguins. I love seeing these animals because their just cute.

  • EmilyB-dec1
    1/23/2019 - 09:26 a.m.

    The animals I like to see at the zoos are foxes and otters because those are my favorite. There my favorite because there active and play a lot.

  • GiavonnaS-dec
    1/23/2019 - 10:43 a.m.

    I love going to the zoo, and I always have. I love seeing all the animals that I don't have the chance to see in my backyard or at the park.The animals that I like to see most at the zoo are the african animals. For example, lions,snakes, lizards, foxes,and many more. I love to see these animals because I can't see them everyday. These are the animals that I like to see at the zoo.

  • wschl-wim4
    2/07/2019 - 11:05 a.m.

    The animals I most like to see are the snow leopard, the tigers and the polar bears. I like to see them because at my zoo those animals are the most funny, interactive animals I've ever seen. They like to play with the employees and go up to the glass and make faces to us(humans). The tigers like to rough house a lot which is really cute. These animals are so funny and the next time I go to the zoo I can't wait to see them again.

  • calon-wim5
    2/07/2019 - 12:52 p.m.

    The animals i like to see the most would be all of the animals (except for bugs and most of the reptiles). I like all of the animals because in their own way they're really cute to look at! The animals are also really exquisite and exotic, like the elephants, topi, zebras, penguins, and other creatures for around the world. I also enjoy the weird sounds that the animals make, like the lions, elephants, birds, and other creatures.

  • Neveahh-orv
    2/26/2019 - 10:55 a.m.

    I most like to see pandas.Why i don't really know i think honestly i like pandas a lot they are my favorite animals and they are just so friendly so i like seeing pandas the most.

  • Neveahh-orv
    3/13/2019 - 02:50 p.m.

    I like to see pandas and elephants. I really like seeing elephants because they are my favorite animal and i really like them.I like to see pandas because they are my 2nd favorite animals and they are so cute and i just love them.

  • JesseM-dec1
    3/25/2019 - 01:14 p.m.

    Thats good because it would not make sense for animals to die just because of the shut down. Its a good call by the goverment

  • LeviD-dec
    5/09/2019 - 08:24 a.m.

    I would like to see all the animals because they are all interesting, for example ,Giant Pandas leave scent marks in their Areas. The scent marks serve as a major form of communication. Giant Pandas can determine from the scent if another Giant Panda is in the area, if the other Giant Panda is male or female, how recently they left their mark, and, in the case of females, if they are in a reproductive period.

  • EmilyB-dec1
    5/24/2019 - 07:56 a.m.

    The animals that I like to see at the zoo is otters and the giraffes because those are my favorite animal.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT