So, things are slowly returning to normal in the DMV (Washington, Northern Virginia, and parts of Maryland) as the infection rates drop. We never had the high infection rates seen in other parts of the country due to quick and decisive actions by the two governors and the mayor. BTW, Virginia has the only governor with an MD and one of the few Republican governors who advocated for quick action (and heads the board of governors) is in Maryland. So, we decided to visit the National Zoo.
If you’re visiting the area from almost anywhere in the south or west, you must quarantine for 14 days before enjoying all the city has to offer. And, if you’ve never been to DC, you’re missing one of the all-time best bargains in the country. Yeah, the hotels are a little pricy but you can stay in the suburbs and metro into the city (there’s very little parking available anyway) for about the same as you’d pay anywhere in the country. Once you get to DC, you can easily fill a week without paying a single admission fee with all the Smithsonian museums have to offer.
We live in the DMV, so we are a little spoiled but still enjoy being able to see what the city has. Saturday, we tested the waters with the National Zoo, since outdoor spaces are safer than indoor spaces.
Visit the National Zoo
Things are returning to a new normal because you can now visit the National Zoo and several other parts of the Smithsonian’s huge collection. The art museum just opened last week, as did the National Zoo. Check before you plan your trip since things change rapidly.
Normally, folks just walk into the zoo. When they opened a week ago, the zoo started requiring tickets. They’re free, but you need a ticket with an entry time to restrict the number of people entering at any one time. Parking tickets, which cost $30 (twice as much as normal) include admission for up to 6 people and they don’t have a timestamp so you can visit the National Zoo anytime during the day.
Tickets go fast, so go online to get tickets at least a week in advance of your visit.
Only 1 entrance is open
You must enter at the Connecticut Ave entrance (main entrance) and they moved some bushes around to restrict access. That means you need to form a line to get into the park.
What you see while visiting
All 3 areas (Maryland, Virginia, and DC) have mandatory mask orders and will for the foreseeable future for everyone 5 and up–hence the reason my granddaughter wasn’t masked up. So, you’ll need a mask at all times except when eating or drinking. We found most people followed the mask rule most of the time. The Zoo designated eating areas where the tables were at least 6 ft apart to ensure there was social distance when people weren’t wearing their masks, but being American’s many were eating as they went through the park.
The Zoo also requires folks to observe social distancing, which didn’t really happen. So, when the Giant Panda emerged from his house, everyone crowded around to get a peek.
Of course, all I go was his butt, since I had to wrangle 3 kids under 10 while trying to get a picture. But, as an avid zoo goer, I can tell you that seeing the panda out in the middle of his yard isn’t common. He usually sticks to his house or hides in the bamboo along the fringes. I guess he’s a little shy.
But, with everybody masked up, I’m less concerned about the distance.
Many pathways in the zoo are one-way only or have a barrier between the two-way segments to help ensure distancing. Also, most of the indoor spaces are closed to visitors. We were disappointed that the Reptile House and Amazonia were both closed.
Basically, you can’t touch anything and, as you see in the picture at the top of this post, they got a deal on the hands with a line through them to tell you not to touch. Of course, telling a 3-year-old not to touch is a waste of breath. We saw several employees running around with a huge spray canister of sanitizer who didn’t look too happy that everyone touched things and one rudely pointed to the signs. This makes me wonder what it’ll be like for those schools trying to open (ours are virtual). Kids just don’t follow do not touch or social distancing rules and I spent the entire day saying, “don’t touch”.
Weird things you’ll see during your visit to the National Zoo
One of the weirdest things I saw was the shops open; many selling stuffed animals. I recognize this is a major source of revenue, but come on. Stuffed animals are like a cesspool on a good day and a definite no-no during a pandemic. A no brainer, it would appear.
Another weird thing was that many of the animals seemed a little shy … more than normal. Maybe they got used to having the part to themselves during the lockdown and were still getting used to having us around. Of course, the Orangutan was out swinging from the high wire, even stopping to show her displeasure by defecating on a couple of visitors.
OK, enough for today. Enjoy your day.
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See you back here soon.