The Washington Times Daily - - Metro -

a more nat­u­ral habi­tat.

In late June, the zoo’s male red panda dis­ap­peared from its out­door en­clo­sure, only to be found about a mile away near Adams Mor­gan. Keep­ers said a low-hang­ing branch in his nat­u­ral ex­hibit likely aided his break­out.

Also in the back of the minds of the zoo’s cat keep­ers is the news about the 3-week-old Su­ma­tran tiger cub at the Lon­don Zoo in Eng­land, which drowned in its ex­hibit pool last month.

Tues­day’s swim test was held two weeks be­fore the cubs are sched­uled to make their pub­lic de­but.

The Great Cats Ex­hibit is sur­rounded by a moat where the water depth ranges from 3 feet to 12 feet. The Na­tional Zoo con­ducted a swim test for its seven lion cubs in 2007 and the three Su­ma­tran tiger cubs born in 2006.

Echo­ing Mr. Moore’s com­par­i­son of science and art within an­i­mal be­hav­ior, Mr. Saf­foe said while it was im­por­tant to en­sure the tigers could learn to swim on their own, had one started to sink or drown keep­ers would have in­ter­vened, just as a par­ent as­sists a child at a pool.

“Science tells us they are mam­mals, art tells us they might sink,” Mr. Saf­foe said. “We can’t af­ford to lose one, and that was the point of what we did to­day.”

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