News Archive 2003
Jan l Feb l Mar l Apr l May l Jun
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Nov l Dec
- Giant Panda Training
The Summer 2003 edition of Inside Smithsonian Research features
an article detailing the training of giant pandas Tian Tian and Mei Xiang.
Keepers train the pandas, as they do many other Zoo animals, to aid in the
performance of routine medical procedures and exams. Inside
- National Zoo Receives Two Lions
The Zoo received two female African lions on August 12 from the Wildlife
Waystation in Los Angeles. It is planned that the new arrivals, Lusaka
and Kisangali, both estimated to be 12 years old, will be exhibited with
the National Zoo’s resident male lion, Tsavo, at some time after
they clear medical quarantine and have adjusted to their new surroundings.
Tsavo, a full-maned adult familiar to many Zoo visitors, was born here
at the Zoo in November 1988. A donation from Lyondell Chemical Company
of Houston, Texas, paid the expenses of bringing the new arrivals to Washington.
Information will be posted when the new lions go on exhibit.
- Zoo's New Black Howler
Monkeys Make Their Debut
Two of the Zoo's newest residents, black howler monkeys Reubin and Jolla
(pronounced "HOY-ah"), have debuted in an outdoor exhibit at the
Small Mammal House. Black howler monkeys are native to the rainforests of
Latin America, where the species is considered threatened. At a height of
two to four feet and a weight of eight to 22 pounds, they are the largest
of the New World monkeys. Reubin is a five-year-old male from the Tulsa Zoo,
and Jolla is a six-year-old female from the Lowry Park Zoological Garden
in Florida. They have come to the Zoo as part of a Population
Management Plan organized by the AZA. Meet
the howler monkeys
Stork Won’t Visit National Zoo Giant Pandas This
The National Zoo’s female giant panda is not pregnant this year, but
Zoo scientists have collected significant hormonal, behavioral, and other
data that will help them—and other researchers studying giant pandas—better
understand the reproductive nature of these endangered animals.
of One of the Zoo's Bald Eagles
One of the Zoo’s three bald eagles died after suffering from extensive
wounds inflicted by a predator, which experts have determined was most likely
of New Bald Eagle Refuge Exhibit
This new outdoor exhibit was developed in partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service and the AZA. Located on the Zoo’s Valley Trail, it houses two
bald eagles in a setting that includes naturalistic rock formations, a pond,
a heated shelter, and a perch. Visitors can learn about the National Wildlife
Refuge System and the role zoos play in animal conservation efforts through
the exhibit’s interactive displays.
- Bill Xanten Hired as General Curator
Bill Xanten, who brings with him a wealth of animal care and management experience,
has been selected as the Zoo’s general curator. In this position,
Xanten will oversee all animal care at the Zoo as well as the Office of
the Registrar. Most recently a consultant with other AZA-accredited and
international zoos, Xanten had been a part of the Zoo’s team for
many years, where he served as curator of mammals, hoofstock, and carnivores,
as well as a keeper.
- Ed Bronikowski and Jack Grisham Hired as Associate
Curators Reporting to general curator Bill Xanten, Ed
Bronikowski and Jack Grisham will oversee the Zoo’s
curators and animal keepers. A former National Zoo employee,
Bronikowski has extensive experience in exhibit design
and in collections management both here at the National
Zoo and at The Tampa Aquarium. Grisham served as general
curator at Oklahoma City Zoo since 1986, and has been
a leader in AZA Species Survival Plans.
of the Five-Millionth Visitor to the Fujifilm Giant
Panda Conservation Habitat
Susan Goi of Singapore was celebrated as the five-millionth visitor to this
popular exhibit that houses giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. Fewer than
1,000 pandas exist in their native forested habitat in central China. Another
120 live in breeding facilities in China, and 20 others live in zoos outside
- National Academy
of Sciences Committee Announced
A provisional committee of experts was announced by the National Academy
of Sciences (NAS) to conduct an assessment of animal management, husbandry,
and care at the National Zoo’s Rock Creek and Front Royal facilities.
- Annual USDA Inspection of the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors visited the Zoo's
Rock Creek facilities as part of their regular inspections of U.S. zoos.
USDA has oversight of U.S. zoos and makes annual inspections of these zoos.
We are proud that USDA’s “findings”—areas which the
USDA recommends we work on—numbered only eight this year, a significant
improvement over last year’s 21 findings, and a clear sign that the
hard work and commitment of Zoo staff to improve the Zoo for its animals
and visitors is paying off!
- National Zoo Named Best Sunny Day Outing
The July edition of Washington
Families has named the National Zoo as the best place for a sunny
day outing in Washington, D.C. Giant pandas are named as the “best
animal” to visit at the Zoo!
- Eco-Explorers Sea Turtle Research Trip
This month, FONZ's teen travel program, Eco-Explorers, will lead five area
teens on a trip to Wassaw Island off the coast of Georgia to assist scientists
studying a threatened sea turtle species. Participants will help scientists
monitor the beach for nesting turtles, measure and tag the animals, and
relocate nests. The trip takes place July 18-27.
- Formation of National Zoo’s Science Advisory
The Science Advisory Group has been developed to provide Zoo scientists with
a forum to discuss ideas regarding the Zoo’s science and conservation
programs and to discuss ways of continuing to improve the important work
that National Zoo scientists do every day. The Science Advisory Group includes
science leaders from zoos, conservation organizations, and academic institutions.
After evaluating our visitors’ needs, we’ve redesigned our Zoo
map and signs throughout the park to make it easier for visitors to find
their way around the park.
- Great Meadow Renewal
We’ve added a terrace to the Great Meadow to enhance one of our most
important special event places. When its not being used for an event. It’s
a great place for our visitors to picnic. Add graphic link of people enjoying
the Great Meadow.
Animal Comings and Goings
New Zoo arrivals soon to be on exhibit include Grevy's zebra, howler monkeys,
and golden-headed lion tamarins; Two rhinos depart as preparations for Asia Trail
- Groundbreaking for Kids’ Farm
Watch the new Kids’ Farm as it grows at the bottom of the Zoo, behind
the Mane Restaurant. It will open in spring, 2004.
- New Outdoor Yard for Komodo Dragons
Behind the Reptile House, a new exhibit has opened for two of the Zoo’s
three Komodo Dragons. This glass-enclosed outdoor yard offers the dragons
grass to lounge on, a berm to dig in and direct sunlight to relax in.
Migratory Bird Center Celebrates Bird Fest 2003
Held in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, this festival
is hosted by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as a celebration of migratory-bird
conservation. Guests learn about efforts to protect the nearly 350 species
of migratory birds that live in North America, as well as what they can do
- AZA Accreditation
All accredited zoos undergo a re-accreditaton process every five years. At
the Zoo’s re-accreditation meeting in April, the American Zoo and
Aquarium Association (AZA) Accreditation Commission was very supportive
of the changes made at the Zoo, but decided to "table" the
National Zoo’s accreditation for one year while we continue to make
to Capitol Hill
Director Spelman testified before the Committee on House Administration,
the Smithsonian Institution’s House authorizing committee, along with
Secretary Small and Undersecretary David Evans. During the hearing, Spelman
welcomed the decision to have an independent panel, led by the National Academy
of Sciences, review the Zoo's animal care and management practices.
- Increased Budget
The Zoo’s FY2003 budget was announced, reflecting strong support for
the Zoo’s operations and facilities renewal. A supplemental amount
of $2.1 million was also provided in addition to the $16.7 million the Zoo
requested. This additional funding will be used to upgrade utilities (electric
services), repair pool and rockwork at the Seal/Sea Lion pools, and design
a new roof for the Elephant and Reptile Houses. The Zoo’s capital improvements
budget has grown significantly over the past three years: from $4 million
in FY 2000 to $6 million in FY 2001 to $10 million in FY 2002 to $18 million
FY 2003, enabling us to make significant progress on the repairs to the 114-year-old
- Cause of New Amphibian Disease Discovered
National Zoo pathologists have discovered the cause of a new, fatal skin
disease (cutaneous chytridiomycosis) in frogs, toads, and salamanders that
is devastating populations of captive and wild amphibians and contributing
to a global decline in amphibian populations. By understanding the cause
of this disease, Zoo researchers have been able to develop methods to successfully
treat infected frogs and tadpoles in captivity.
- New Octopus Home
This new large tank at Invertebrates is designed with removable arches and
offers plenty of room for additional enrichment elements for the Zoo’s
female giant Pacific octopus.
- Asia Trail Demolition
Demolition work, including the razing of the aged
Australia House, has begun in preparation
for the construction of Asia Trail, a key component
of the Zoo’s ten-year revitalization
project. Focusing on species
to which the Zoo has long-standing science and conservation commitments,
Asia Trail will provide new habitats for several of the Zoo’s best-known
Asian animals, including giant pandas, Asian elephants, and sloth bears,
as well as species new to the Zoo, including clouded leopards and giant
salamanders. These exhibits will
visitors an opportunity to see these species up close in
naturalistic environments and will also
link them with the science and conservation work underway by Zoo researchers
to help conserve these species. Nearly one-quarter of the Zoo will be
renewed through Asia Trail, the first portion of which is expected
to open in 2005.
- Review of Pest Control Procedures
The National Zoo is a 163-acre park in the heart of
a major city, which makes it a haven for urban wildlife.
The Zoo has initiated a comprehensive review of
its pest-control procedures. This review commenced after two of our red
pandas were accidentally poisoned during pest control
procedures. In addition to
a review of these pest control procedures, Zoo personnel are reviewing
all daily operations and are beginning a Zoo-wide
update of "Best Practices," the
Zoo’s operation practices.