Friends of the National Zoo calls all baking enthusiasts to enter the annual Gin-GRR-Bread Habitat Contest at the Smithsonian's National Zoo. This year's theme is, A Winter's Tail on the American Trail. American Trail is the newest exhibit at the National Zoo and is home to four California sea lions, one gray seal, one bald eagle, two ravens, two pelicans, two otters, and three beavers. Judges will be looking for deliciously designed habitats that make a splash. Bakers, artists, animal lovers and holiday enthusiasts can put their skills to the test to build sugary habitats any animal on American Trail would be happy to call home. National Zoo animal keepers and local personalities will evaluate each entry based on aesthetic aspects of the habitats as well as their consideration for the welfare of the animals living in them. An ideal habitat for any of the animals on American Trail would include:
- Space to move, climb, swim and explore. The enclosures on American Trail have different ground levels, trees and plants, streams and pools, and enrichment objects. The seal and sea lion pools include different depths, underwater nooks and caves, and beach rocks for sunning—all of which keep the animals healthy and active.
- Shelter from the heat and cold.
- Food and a place to eat. Water and a place to drink.
The winning entries will be revealed Nov. 30, during the Zoo's annual holiday light festival, ZooLights. Grand prize winners will receive an exclusive keeper-led tour of American Trail for 10 guests.
The Gin-GRR-Bread Habitat Contest is open to all ages. One grand prize and one honorable mention will be awarded in three categories, including:
- Family or Youth Team—Teams with children ages 17 and under. Teams may be comprised entirely of youths, or adults and youths.
- Adult Team: Teams of participants ages 18 and over.
- Adult Individual—Adults ages 18 or over working alone.
All teams must comprise at least two participants, but no more than five participants.
To be eligible for the competition, entrants must register on the Zoo's website by 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17. Habitats must be delivered to the National Zoo Nov. 17, or Nov. 18, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. A $20 non-refundable entry fee is required at the time of habitat delivery (cash or check only). All entrants are encouraged to register early as space is limited. All proceeds from the Gin-GRR-Bread Habitat Contest support animal care, conservation science and sustainability at the Smithsonian's National Zoo.