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How are National Zoo animals doing during shutdown?

Giant panda Mei Xiang at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. (Skip Brown, Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

WASHINGTON — A WTOP listener wondered how the animals at the National Zoo are doing during the government shutdown, so we reached out and got answers.

The zoo remains closed during the shutdown, but more than half of the staff there and at the Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal are still on the job. And they’re getting daily help from FONZ volunteer keeper aides.

In an email, spokeswoman Annalisa Meyer wrote: “No matter how long the shutdown continues, we will have staff at the zoo and at SCBI to care for animals. A shutdown has not changed our commitment to the safety of our staff and standard of excellence in animal care.” The Smithsonian set up money before the shutdown to cover utilities such as water and electricity.

She said the zoo’s veterinarians are continuing to treat animals that get sick, but preventive health care and testing has been cut back, along with treatment by outside specialists in fields such as dentistry and reproduction.

Asked whether there have been any animal deaths at the zoo that can be directly attributed to the shutdown, Meyer said no.

Read the National Zoo’s government shutdown FAQ.

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