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.
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.
3. This beaver is fed up with the sequester blame-game. Congress passed it and the President signed it!
4. This octopus worries that he’ll lose two of his eight legs under the sequester.
5. These sea lions are debating whether their inflatable balls count as a “program” or “activity.”
6. This incredibly tiny strawberry dart frog is watching every dime.
7. These gibbons are fine with the sequester. They think there’s too much waste around the zoo anyway.
8. This naked mole rat honestly has bigger problems than a sequester.
9. These otters literally can’t believe this is how Congress chose to cut the budget.
10. This baby fishing cat thinks we spend too much money on elderly fishing cats.
11. This eagle thinks the deficit hawks are nuts.
12. This tortoise has lived through a dozen sequesters, and will probably live through a dozen more.
13. This hippo is safe from the sequester in the private industry (seriously: he moved to Milwaukee).
14. This alpaca doesn’t understand why discretionary spending is being targeted when it’s entitlements are out of control.
15. Tai Shan is especially worried about the panda breeding program.
16. This orangutan thinks sequestered agencies should be able to hang in there.
17. This Cuban crocodile was hoping this big mess would be settled before he hatched.
18. This Andean bear is a fan of Yuval Levin’s plan for means-testing Medicare.
19. These burrowing owls would like to hear more about Obama’s plan to replace the sequester.
20. This anteater thinks we made our own bed by creating the sequester in the first place, so we should just lie in it.
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.