Interviews, Special Events, The Features

Vincent Musi and Exotic Pets, By Way of National Geographic

Vincent J. Musi, courtesy National Geographic

Vincent J. Musi, courtesy National Geographic

Tomorrow night, veteran photographer Vincent J. Musi will take the stage at the National Geographic Museum. He’ll be discussing his latest story in the April 2014 magazine, “Exotic Pets,” where he explored the deep connections some people have with creatures not found in the corner pet store. He’ll be sharing images and stories from this assignment and other forays into the world of animals.

We’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to the show, so leave a comment below, using your first name and a valid email address; we’ll draw the winner before noon tomorrow. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. and parking is free at the museum’s garage after 6 p.m. for those attending the program.

Musi took a moment to answer some of our questions about his work and the project.

How did you approach the Exotic Pets project?

My goal was to offer a voice to people who had experience with exotic animals in a straightforward and non-judgmental way. These are folks who tend to get marginalized in what can be very sensational coverage by the press. I was looking for diversity in experience, animals, and opinions. Anyone who had a direct relationship with an exotic animal.

What was the most unusual pairing or situation you came across?

A breeder of jungle cat hybrids in Florida had a huge Tortoise, Canada Goose and a Pot Bellied Pig as her personal pets. Nothing can prepare you for the site of a Mountain Lion lounging pool-side at a brick ranch house or a white-tailed deer with her own bedroom.

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We Love Arts

We Love Arts: War Horse

Andrew Veenstra (Albert) with Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui (Joey) in War Horse / © Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

There are two sides to The Kennedy Center’s War Horse. On one side, we have animals; on the other side, we have people—and by the end of the play, it’s evident the two sides are not equal.

The story surrounds a young man’s journey into the depths of WWI to save his beloved horse Joey, who has fallen behind enemy lines. With puppetry, music, and film, the show portrays the tragedy of war and the horrific treatment of animals during WWI.

Military technology runs down magnificent horses as if they’re just another weapon to be decimated. Both sides of the war use creatures around them as pawns; and even the heroes who want to save the animals feel helpless to do so.

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The Daily Feed

Zoo Animals Love Halloween Too


Asian small-clawed otter by Smithsonian’s National Zoo

They may not be able to go trick-or-treating due to, well, being locked in confined quarters, but that’s not preventing these cute zoo animals and their keepers from getting into the holiday spirit.  I can’t wait for Christmas when they build snowmen with the gorillas and hang ornaments from the giraffes’ horns.  Feast your eyes on the whole set here.

Downtown, Fun & Games, Special Events, The Features

Geckos: The New Cuteness?

Photo courtesy of
‘DSC_0015′
courtesy of ‘RomeTheWorld’

Opening today and running through the first week of January is a new exhibit at National Geographic. “Geckos: Tails to Toepads” features just over 15 species of live geckos of different colors, stripes, shapes, and sizes. While there are also interactive displays and a kids-oriented area, the main attraction are the self-contained terrarium-style displays with all sorts of geckos.

Some of them are pretty tough to spot, like the Satanic Leaf-tail Gecko. (There are four in the enclosure, of which I found only two.) Some are pretty “obvious” geckos, similar in appearance to the animated one on television shilling insurance. And some are just downright ugly. But all in all, they are fascinating to watch and most (if not all) are pretty darn cute – for a reptile.

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The Daily Feed

Nesting Duck at National Garden

Duck nesting in firecracker flower bed, National Garden

This mother duck seems to have found an excellent nesting location in the Firecracker Flower bed right outside the National Garden, facing Independence Ave SW. Let’s hope she gets her eggs hatched and the ducklings safely through the garden to the First Ladies’ Water Garden without having to cross any roads or drain covers.

Bigger photo after jump: Continue reading

Arlington, The Daily Feed

Good People Save Animals

Mysterious Ultra-Cute Dog Sitting Up
Mysterious Ultra-Cute Dog Sitting Up in Arlington

You don’t hate cute puppies and kittens, do you? You enjoy a fine brew from time to time, right? Prove it! Come out tomorrow night, Thursday, to Mister Day’s in Clarendon for a low-dollar fundraiser for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue! The suggested donation is only $10 and you will make that up in drink specials anyway. From 6-9pm, a mere $2.50 gets you pretty much any beer, draft or bottle, AND rail drinks. For you classy types, $3 gets you wine. Top it off with $5 pizza and pasta and you’ve got a great night!

It’s for the animals. It’s a good cause. Dogs are awesome and cats are not so bad themselves. Plus, Homeward Trails has something called a “kitty city”. Have you put this in your calendar yet? I’ll make it easy for ya…click here to add it right to your Google calendar! See you there.

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The Daily Feed, The Mall

Have You Seen This Bird?

Parakeet Staring

This here is Pickles, a green and very talkative rose-ringed parakeet last seen in a tree in the Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. Pickles’ owner Scott likes to take the bird on his shoulder, pirate-style, for walks around the National Mall on weekends, and on nice days, perch Pickles on tree branches in the Gardens to let him get some nature.

Yesterday, Pickles disappeared. Continue reading

Essential DC, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, The Features, Tourism

Tourism: National Zoo

Pandamania!

Pandamania! by flickr user needlessspaces

The National Zoo was the second major DC tourism spot that I hit after I moved here. The first was the Washington Monument. Our Zoo is great – it’s my second favorite zoo I’ve ever been to (second only to the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. No I’m not joking, that zoo is phenomenal.) so when my parents came into town to visit, we decided to make the journey.

It sort of feels wrong, you know? Just walking right in without paying. Put aside the guilt and it’s actually a fabulous feeling. It allows people to come back and back again, and it seems like there are people who truly take advantage. As we were walking in a runner in full workout garb jogged past – what a great run! Aside from dodging all the bumbling people and strollers, you’d have incredibly entertaining scenery and quite a steep hill workout. Envious.

As you enter the zoo you’re faced with starting your zoo tour by heading down towards the pandas on the the Asia walk, or going down the entire hill and doing everything on the way back up. I don’t have an opinion either way. But I do recommend that you print out a map before you go – available on the zoo web site, you can save yourself money by printing it out on your own. Otherwise they charge for a take-with-you map. Fair, I think, since entry is free. So off you go to meet and greet all the animals. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Harrison Ford, Calista Flockhart, and Son, with Happy the Hippo and a Zookeeper


"Come on get Happy"
Originally uploaded by Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Via the National Zoo we behold Harrison Ford, his fiancé Calista Flockhart, and her son Liam at the National Zoo, getting a closeup view of 5000 pound Nile hippopotamus Happy. Word is that Ford was able to personally feed the hippo, whose diet, like a Nabooan shaak, consists mainly of grass.

No word on whether Mr. Ford then pulled out a whip to fend off the hippo from stampeding his future family. Anyway, ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

The Daily Feed, The Great Outdoors, The Hill

Drained Capitol Reflecting Pool

Heads-up to those of you who were hoping for a nice, relaxing wade in the cool, green, avian botulism-infected waters of the Capitol Reflecting Pool: the National Park Service has drained the Pool till Aug 29th. NPS had considered draining as a quick, immediate protective measure to wildlife — cheaper and faster than installing a water circulation and filtering system, but not quite as aesthetically pleasing. It looks like they went ahead with the draining plan, or perhaps it coincided with what the sign on the fence says is a “routine cleansing.” It’s ugly, but less so, I guess, than piles of duck corpses.

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News, The Daily Feed, The Great Outdoors, WTF?!

It’s Not a Cougar

Savannah

Via DCist we have a Washington Post report that last week’s UMD “cougar” may actually have been a large Savannah (serval/domestic feline hybrid). So I guess all you people who couldn’t resist making cougar jokes last week all feel pretty silly now. Me, I’ll settle for saying the title of this post with an Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.

(Flickr photo of a yawning Savannah Cat courtesy drlisa)

Talkin' Transit, The Daily Feed, The Great Outdoors, WMATA

Metro Birding

IMG_6170.JPG

If you’re like me, you probably wake up every weekend morning thinking, “I’m tired of seeing only pigeons, sparrows, seagulls, starlings, and other parasitic and invasive avian species in this urban environment! But I don’t have a car! If only there were Metro-accessible places to see more diverse species of indigenous birds in the DC area!” Well, despair no more! John Beetham of the DC Audubon Society has posted Birding By Metro, your guide to bird-spotting locations easily accessible by DC public transportation.

Birding By Metro. Go do it. Seriously. Bring back pictures.