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Washington DC Blizzard Cause for Snow Day At National Zoo

Washington DC Blizzard
A Washington DC blizzard which snarled highway traffic, stranding thousands overnight into the day on Tuesday, was an occasion of fun for the animals at the National Zoo. Credit: The National Zoo/Screenshot from YouTube

A snow day declared after the Washington DC blizzard on Tuesday was a boon to the animals at the National Zoo, who rolled around and frolicked in the snow at the National Zoo.

However, the heavy snowfall, which contributed to thousands of vehicles becoming stranded on Interstate 95 just outside the city in Virginia for more than an entire day, caused enormous disruptions around the city, with as many as half a million homes still without electricity on Wednesday.

Strong winds continue to damage trees and threaten power lines and slush froze overnight again on Tuesday night, adding to the chaos in Washington.

Politicians, other travelers stranded overnight outside DC

Former Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine (D-VA) was one of the unlucky people forced to spend Monday night on the highway outside the city after a tractor trailer jackknifed due to the inclement weather. Caine, who ran as a vice Presidential candidate under Hillary Clinton, ended up spending 27 hours in his nightmare commute, which finally ended after he reached the Capitol building late on Tuesday.

“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol,” Kaine tweeted on Tuesday morning. He was still on the road hours after he sent the Tweet.

Kaine, who is a fellow member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with philhellene senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), arrived on Capitol Hill just before 4 p.m., “26.5 hours later,” he said.

The six inches of snow that fell on Washington DC may have been a nightmare for commuters, but it was an occasion of joy for the pandas.

Animals who live at The National Zoo, part of the Smithsonian Institution, took full advantage of the snow day, when the zoo was closed to visitors, by romping in the drifts. Panda Xiao Qi Ji and her companions frolicked in the white stuff, reveling in the unusual phenomenon.

Washington usually does receive some snow every year, but it rarely accumulates on roads to the point that traffic is snarled to this degree. However, huge blizzards that occurred in the city in 2010 — referred to as “Snowmageddon” — dropped an incredible 35 inches in the mid-Atlantic states.

Wallaby National Zoo
A Bennett’s Wallaby is seen covered in snow at the National Zoo in Washington. The Smithsonian, which operates the zoo, assured the public that none of its animals were harmed during the blizzard. Credit: The National Zoo

With the Smithsonian’s National Zoo officially closed on Monday and Tuesday anyway due to pandemic-related issues, its animals were completely free to frolic and play all day long, with giant pandas, bison, and even elephants, sloth bears, cheetahs and wallabies enjoying the fluffy stuff.

While of course the bison were well acclimated to such temperatures, some members of the public expressed alarm that creatures such as the Australian wallabies would suffer in the snow and cold. However, the Smithsonian was quick to assure them that none of the animals would experience problems from the weather. Even the elephants at the zoo seemed to enjoy the snowstorm.

At the Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, a cheetah and her cubs watched the flakes fall to the ground while they stayed inside, busying themselves with lapping story snowflakes bits of ice off each others’ fur.

Born just two years ago, giant panda cub Xiao Qi Ji wasn’t too impressed with his first snow  last year, although his companions whooped it up. But now he seems delighted with it, as his mother Mei Xiang accompanied him in a romp through the drifts yesterday.

The 16-month-old panda slid headfirst on his stomach down a small hill in his enclosure after performing a few somersaults.

Yet another storm is predicted for the area tomorrow.

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