On Friday I spent much of my day at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC which is part of the Smithsonian Museum Complex. I spent most of time getting glimpses of some of the areas where the Animal Keepers work. I started my morning in the Reptile Discovery Center where I learned some helpful hints on exhibit design and modifications and saw there emergency system for dealing with venomous snake bites.
As you can see from the pictures, an alarm can be activated by an injured person which sets in motion the response plan. Designated staff retrieve the appropriate antivenin and ride with the victim to the hospital in a Park Police vehicle.
I left the reptile area and traveled to the Amazonia Habitat which recreates the lush tropical habitat of the world’s greatest river system. While I was there I got to help feed the giant arapaima fish. The fish were over 6 feet long and weighed hundreds of pounds. The fish vacuumed in food chunks with a giant sucking sound! I learned a lot about their aquatic filtration systems and also got see some of their food prep areas and cricket housing techniques.
My final stop was along the Asia Trail where I passed by Pandas and fishing cats on my way to meet a keeper at the Sloth bear exhibit. The sloth bear habitat and house are only a couple of years old and very nice. I got to meet the very charming Merlin in the bear house. He demonstrated the amazing suction power of sloth bears by slurping up mealworms from a long PVC pipe.
I finished my busy Friday by jumping on the metro and heading downtown to the National Aquarium. I was lucky enough to see some of the aquatic support spaces at the aquarium and get some ideas for our own exhibits at the Museum of Life and Science.