Washington DC, A to Z: Pandas at the Zoo

I was hoping to get a picture of one of the Smithsonian Zoo’s Red Pandas, the Giant Pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park have been getting more than enough attention this winter. Unfortunately, since the Giant Pandas had also been getting a lot of visitors, the Red Pandas were temporarily relocated to Virginia.

When we visited the Zoo in March,  SEEING PANDAS AT THE ZOO had very similar information as it does today:

  • Please arrive early. Long lines require earlier cut-off times to ensure those waiting can enter the panda house before it closes.
  • Mei Xiang and Bao Bao may not always be visible .
Fortunately, the day we went to the Zoo it wasn’t crowded at all. Maybe it was because we were in DC before the beginning of tourist season. Or maybe it was because we went to the Zoo on a Sunday and there weren’t any large groups of school children.
Outdoor Panda Exhibit
Tian Tian, the father, was hard to spot at first.
Tian Tain pacing back and forth in front of the entrance to the internal exhibit
Tian Tian (t-YEN t-YEN), the male, was born on August 27, 1997.
His name means “more and more.”
He weighs about 264 pounds.
Once we got a good view of Tian Tian,  we headed to the indoors exhibit to see the mother (and hopefully the baby). It was a bit more crowded inside, but it could have been much worse!
Mei Xiang (may-SHONG), the mother, sitting mostly hidden but just on the other side of the glass barrier.

Like millions of others before us, we watched Mei Xiang eat.

Millions of Zoo visitors enjoy watching giant pandas eat. A panda usually eats while sitting upright, in a pose that resembles how humans sit on the floor.A giant panda’s digestive system is more similar to that of a carnivore than an herbivore, and so much of what is eaten is passed as waste. To make up for the inefficient digestion, a panda needs to consume a comparatively large amount of food—from 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day—to get all its nutrients. To obtain this much food means that a panda must spend 10 to 16 hours a day foraging and eating. The rest of its time is spent mostly sleeping and resting.

After Mei Xiang finished eating all visible bamboo shoots, stems, and leaves she got up and wandered slowly into the next room.

Mai Xiang discovers more bamboo!

We didn’t stick around to watch her finish this one.

The baby panda, Bao Bao, was asleep in a ball on top of a pile of rocks the entire time we were watching his mother eat.

For updated panda news and a link to Panda Cams, click here.

Previously: Degu at the Zoo, Meerkats!

Click on the picture below to see cute pictures of animals from around the world.

Camera Critters


11 thoughts on “Washington DC, A to Z: Pandas at the Zoo

  1. We have panda visiting for 3 years at the Toronto Zoo and I must see them. They are so adorable in so many ways and it is a treasure when they actually mate and have a baby that survives as this is difficult. I love watching animal shows:)


  2. I think that's why the United States got to keep the adult pandas longer. This is the second baby panda that survived from the pair. And it was artificial insemination. Itwas rreally fascinating to watch her eat


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