All posts tagged: lush gardens of colorful animals

The National Zoo Is Trading Three Giant Pandas for a One-Eyed Opossum

The National Zoo Is Trading Three Giant Pandas for a One-Eyed Opossum

This week was a bittersweet one at the zoo. Visitors to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, with their panda-patterned hats and panda umbrellas, flooded in to say farewell to the zoo’s three giant pandas, who will soon be on their way back to China. To honor their departure, zoo staff are hosting a multiday Panda Palooza, with panda-themed movie screenings, kids’ activities, and cake for the bears. After all, the pandas have been D.C. icons since the first generation arrived more than 50 years ago. Today, zoo-adjacent restaurants sell panda pancakes and panda cake pops. The D.C. metro system sells panda tote bags, and the Washington Mystics women’s basketball team adopted Pax the Panda as its mascot. But I went to the zoo last week to see a very different animal. I arrived at the Small Mammal House, walked past the South American prehensile-tailed porcupines and a pair of Australian brush-tailed bettongs, and found Basil the opossum asleep, his fuzzy body curled into a ball, his chest rising and falling. When Mimi Nowlin, a Small …