Grab your zoo crew: National Zoo is now open to visitors (PHOTOS)
The National Zoo’s new Giant Panda cub Xiao Qi Ji takes a stroll in the grass. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Zoo visitors need to get either a paid parking pass or a free timed entry pass beforehand. Both kinds of passes are booked out through the weekend.
Separate passes are needed to see the Giant Pandas.
Tian tian lounges and enjoys a snack in the shade. (WTOP/John Aaron)
To have a shot at getting panda passes, visitors must scan a QR code at a panda statue at the zoo.
“If for some reason you don’t get in through that QR code the first time, we do release times throughout the day, so definitely try again,” said senior curator Bryan Amaral.
DMV residents can now reunite with mama panda Mei Xiang at the Zoo. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Only about 20 people will be allowed inside the panda house at any given time, zoo officials said. Groups will be staggered in 15-minute increments.
One last-minute rule change involves masks: they are no longer required outdoors for people who have been fully vaccinated.
A panda heads for the trees. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Masks will still be required for those 2 years old or older in all indoor spaces.
The zoo opened at a fraction of its full capacity Friday.
Officials say the number of visitors allowed will slowly ramp up, with a goal of reaching 20% of full capacity, or about 5,000 to 6,000 visitors, by Memorial Day. Zoo hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The zoo reopened on Friday, after shutting down in November because of the pandemic. (WTOP/John Aaron)
Animals new to the zoo include a young male sea lion, a lesser kudu calf, a wallaby joey and a pair of Przewalski’s horses.
These signs can be seen throughout the zoo. (WTOP/Matt Small)
Visitors may also notice landscaping and other improvements.
“The zoo just looks fantastic,” said director Steve Monfort. “People are going to think we had a home makeover while we were closed.”
The turtles sunbathe at the National Zoo. (WTOP/Matt Small)
Deputy director Brandie Smith agreed.
“This is the perfect time to visit this zoo,” she told WTOP. “in the spring the park is gorgeous when people come in.”
The Watson family from Paris, Texas, visit the zoo on the first day reopened. (WTOP/Matt Small)
Maureen Kelly of Columbia, Maryland, with her grandson Declan Ward at the zoo. (WTOP/Matt Small)
Merry Richon and Karie Kilpatrick were excited to visit their favorite orangutan, Redd. (WTOP/Matt Small)
The National Zoo is currently open at a reduced capacity. (WTOP/Matt Small)
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