Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Panda Bears | Washington D.C.

Panda bear Mei Xiang in National Zoo, Washington D.C.

Our visit to the National Zoo was delayed one day.  Our primary goal was to visit the panda bear exhibit. However, on our intended visit day, the female panda bear, Mei Xiang was being artificially inseminated hence the exhibit was closed. 

The next morning was overcast with showers.  Normally, we would prefer to visit the zoo on a sunny day. However, there were no entrance fees to the zoo. Having confirmed on the phone with the zoo that the panda bear exhibit would be opened, we drove there.  Since we were there for almost three hours, we paid $16 for the parking fees.

We arrived at the most opportune time since it was the feeding hours. We saw both the panda bears, the female Mei Xiang (meaning "beautiful fragrance") and the male Tian Tian (meaning "more and more"). Mei Xiang is approaching fifteen years old and Tien Tien is almost sixteen. A zoologist was there providing an informal Q and A session with the visitors.

According to the zoologist, Mei Xiang was feeding voraciously since she was not fed prior to being anesthetized for the artificial insemination procedure the day before. Only time will tell whether Mei Xiang will be a mom.

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 | Washington D.C.

Spring in Washington D.C.
I was an accidental tourist in Washington D.C. the last time I encountered the National Cherry Blossom festival. Yearning for another sweet encounter, we booked our hotel stay through Priceline as soon as the National Park Service announced that the peak bloom would emerged around March 26 and 30.

Alas, spring had been awakening very late this year. The National Park Service then revised the peak bloom dates to be April 3 - 7. 

Hence the cherry blossoms were hardly in full force when we were in the capital last week. Instead of a welcoming sight of pretty in pink blooming trees along the Tidal Basin, we only saw skeletal cherry tree branches during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Having been deprived of seeing blooming trees for so long, I couldn't help capturing the beauty of a nearby magnolia tree in its full glory in a snapshot. The beautiful tree is shown in the picture above.

Kites in flight on the National Mall during Cherry Blossom Kite Festival 2013

Nevertheless, the capital was swarmed with tourists around the Tidal Basin last Saturday. The Cherry Blossom Kite Festival swung into action to brighten up the skies on the National Mall. 

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 flag in Washington D.C.
Cherry Blossom Festival souvenirs were available in a variety of shapes, sizes and prices. We purchased this lovely water bottle.

National Cherry Blossom Festival souvenir

Perhaps Mother Nature will finally dazzle the capital with the long awaited cherry blossoms in peak glory this weekend. 

A trip to see the panda bear at the National Zoo can be read here


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