Last Sunday was another spectacular fall day, and my family and I headed off to one of our favorite spots in all of Washington: the National Zoo. 

Imagine our disappointment when we discovered that the first stop on our regular zoo route was closed — the great cats exhibit. 

It was closed not for renovation but for a private event. I’m sure that the real estate people hosting the event were a fine group, and I hope their “open house” (by invitation only) was a success. But I am bewildered by the thinking of zoo officials who decided it is appropriate to provide private companies and organizations exclusive access to a major exhibit during regular operating hours. I trust the zoo was well compensated.

Another disturbing development, coincidentally right next to the great cats, was the unsightly edifice of the future zoo carousel. Carousel? The Smithsonian Institution says that the National Zoological Park was founded in 1889 to “preserve, teach, and conduct research about the animal world.” Nothing in this mission statement covers amusement park rides or animal rentals.

Anne Topic, Falls Church