These 21 animals have strong feelings on the sequester

February 22, 2013

Under the terms of the sequester, the Smithsonian will take a $40 million budget cut in 2013. Among the programs run by the Smithsonian? The National Zoo.

In today's Washington Post, Steve Hendrix talked to employees at the Smithsonian National Zoo about what the sequester would mean for the many animals they watch. They, unsurprisingly, are not pleased. “I have a very ill anteater right now,” said Craig Saffoe, curator of the zoo’s big cats. “I have tigers that are breeding; I have tigers that are being shipped out; I have Andean bears with cubs fresh on the ground.”

But staff are also resolute. “We will never compromise on human safety, and we’ll never compromise animal welfare,” promises Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo, which has a $50 million budget and employs 450 people. “These people are incredibly devoted to these animals.” The story is a great read, although it did miss one key question: How do the animals feel about this mess? Let's take a look!

1. This Andean bear cub has been shouting about the consequences of the sequester for months now, but feels like nobody has been listening.

Beth Branneu, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Beth Branneu, Smithsonian's National Zoo

2. This short-eared elephant shrew worries that he will lose 5 percent of his regularly-scheduled cricket lunches. This cricket, meanwhile, hopes that is the case.

Photo courtesy of FONZ Photo Club member Clyde Nishimura.
Photo courtesy of FONZ Photo Club member Clyde Nishimura.

3. This beaver is fed up with the sequester blame-game. Congress passed it and the President signed it!

beaver
(Smithsonian's National Zoo)

 4. This octopus worries that he'll lose two of his eight legs under the sequester.

(National Zoo)
(National Zoo)

5. These sea lions are debating whether their inflatable balls count as a "program" or "activity."


(Smithsonian's National Zoo)

6. This incredibly tiny strawberry dart frog is watching every dime.


(Smithsonian National Zoo)

7. These gibbons are fine with the sequester. They think there's too much waste around the zoo anyway.


(Meghan Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

8. This naked mole rat honestly has bigger problems than a sequester.


(Meghan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

9. These otters literally can't believe this is how Congress chose to cut the budget.


(Smithsonian's National Zoo)

10. This baby fishing cat thinks we spend too much money on elderly fishing cats.


(Tallie Wiles, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

11. This eagle thinks the deficit hawks are nuts.


(Jim Jenkins, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

12. This tortoise has lived through a dozen sequesters, and will probably live through a dozen more. 

(Brittany Steff/Smithsonian's National Zoo)
(Brittany Steff/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

13. This hippo is safe from the sequester in the private industry (seriously: he moved to Milwaukee).

(Smithsonian National Zoo)
(Smithsonian National Zoo)

14. This alpaca doesn't understand why discretionary spending is being targeted when it's entitlements are out of control.


(Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

15. Tai Shan is especially worried about the panda breeding program.


(Smithsonian's National Zoo)

16. This orangutan thinks sequestered agencies should be able to hang in there.


(Smithsonian's National Zoo)

17. This Cuban crocodile was hoping this big mess would be settled before he hatched.


(Barbara Watkins, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

18. This Andean bear is a fan of Yuval Levin's plan for means-testing Medicare.


(Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo)

19. These burrowing owls would like to hear more about Obama's plan to replace the sequester.


(Mehgan Murphy/Smithsonian's National Zoo)

20. This anteater thinks we made our own bed by creating the sequester in the first place, so we should just lie in it.


(Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo)

21. Honey badger don't care about the sequester. He does not live in the zoo. 

CORRECTION: The animals in #7 were originally labeled "monkeys," but they are gibbons. And the critter in #18 is an Andean bear, not a sloth bear. We regret these errors.

Further reading

- Wonkblog's animal-free, absurdly comprehensive sequester FAQ.

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Neil Irwin | February 22, 2013