Smithsonian's National Zoo Giant Pandas And Other Animals Enjoy The Snow

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Mei Xiang and Tian Tian enjoyed the fresh snow in Washington, DC (Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo/YouTube screen capture)

This week's severe winter storm, which dumped record amounts of snow in the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, had most residents scrambling for the safety and warmth of their homes. However, the animals at the Smithsonian's National Zoo were not going to let Washington, DC's first significant snowfall in two years go to waste.

The zoo's adult giant pandas — 22-year-old Mei Xiang and 23-year-old Tian Tian — were the first to venture out to frolic in the fresh powder. In a video released by officials on February 1, 2021, the two are seen sliding downhill, doing somersaults, and just having a good time playing in the icy precipitation.

Tian Tian journeyed out on his own the following day and joyfully rolled around in the snow with a ball. Zoo officials say Xiao Qi Ji, the latest addition to the giant panda family, also went out to experience his first snowfall. However, the five-month-old cub did not seem to enjoy the frosty weather and lasted for only about five minutes before scampering back to his cozy shelter.

On loan from the Chinese government since 2000, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian were scheduled to be returned to China at the end of 2020. However, the National Zoo obtained an extension to let the iconic giant pandas remain in Washington, DC, until December 2023. At that time, they, along with baby Xiao Qi Ji, will leave for the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China's Sichuan Province.

The giant pandas were not the only National Zoo residents to enjoy the almost 3 inches of fresh snow. Female red pandas Asa and Chris-Anne also had fun foraging for the fresh blueberries sprinkled around their habitat by the zookeepers.

Native to high altitude bamboo forests in Asia, red pandas are neither bears nor raccoons — which they closely resemble. Instead, they belong to their own family, Ailuridae. The adorable creatures' population in the wild has declined by about 50 percent over the past two decades due to habitat loss caused by logging and human development. They are currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "endangered” list.

Though the zoo's guinea pigs did not venture out of their warm abode, they did enjoy a special icy enrichment meal — snowmen infused with fruit juice and decorated with slivers of some of their favorite vegetables! If the video is any indication, the rodents thoroughly enjoyed the unexpected treat.

Resources: Smithsonianmag.com, nationalzoo.si.edu

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391 Comments
  • bella513
    bella513Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 6:46 am
    I want to play in the snow with them too!!!
    • bella513
      bella513Sunday, June 13, 2021 at 6:46 am
      I want to adopt them cause they're soo cute
      • phoenyxc07
        phoenyxc07Tuesday, May 25, 2021 at 10:49 am
        those pandas are one of the cutest things i have ever seen
        • ariefairy
          ariefairyTuesday, May 25, 2021 at 10:28 am
          So amazing!!!!!
          • hidogonews
            hidogonewsFriday, May 21, 2021 at 12:54 pm
            omg!
            • eagleland
              eaglelandWednesday, May 19, 2021 at 4:33 pm
              Cute!
              • natalia_12146
                natalia_12146Wednesday, May 19, 2021 at 10:14 am
                it is so cute!!!!
                • animal_lover188
                  animal_lover188Monday, May 17, 2021 at 10:01 am
                  i want to adopt an animal so bad they are just so cute. Or rescue an animal!
                  • animal_lover188
                    animal_lover188Monday, May 17, 2021 at 9:59 am
                    OMG did you see their little faces they looked like their were having so much fun in the snow
                    • alphadog
                      alphadogSaturday, May 15, 2021 at 12:17 pm
                      I love the video of the guinea pig I love guinea pigs doing anything they are so cute comment if you think guinea pigs are adorable
                      • hidogonews
                        hidogonewsFriday, May 21, 2021 at 12:56 pm
                        i have a guinea pig and she wakes me up at 5:am every day