The Washington Zoo has free admittance, but parking is $16.00/day. The food is expensive, and we were told that it was not good, but there are some decent restaurants right outside the Zoo, so the frugal tourist has options (To give you an example of the price gouging that they have, lemonade in the Zoo is $3.00 for a small cup; at the 7-11 just outside the gate, you can get a 40 oz. Slurpee for $1.50. When you are in DC in the summer you have to keep drinking, or you will wilt.)
It takes a full day to see all the exhibits in the Washington Zoo, but it doesn’t seem to be bigger than the Pittsburgh or Cleveland Zoos. The layout of the zoo is nice, and everything is accessible by foot. This is different from Cleveland, where there are some areas that are best reached by shuttle bus.
If you are looking for Great Cats, you will be disappointed, because even Erie actually has more lions and tigers (and bears, oh my!) than the Washington Zoo. But Washington has some very strong exhibits. There is a good selection of exotic birds. The Amazon exhibit is quite good. And of course the Washington Zoo has the pandas.
Here are a few pictures we took:
An unidentified big bird.
I think this is poppa panda.
Mama panda wakes up from a nap.
The baby panda was born about 3 years ago, and the exhibit described the difficulty in getting pandas to mate in captivity. (They had to do artifical insemination to make the blessed event occur, because Mr. Panda was not quite up to the task. Artificially inseminating zoo animals cannot be a job for the faint of heart. Explaining the process to my kids is hard enough.)
Since I’m writing about zoos, I should mention that the Erie Zoo is a great little zoo, and if you have kids or if you just like to visit zoos, you should join it. If you have kids, a membership will be paid for in about two visits to our zoo. Membership here also gets you into many other zoos, including Cleveland and Pittsburgh, for free.