Come for the endangered animals. Stay for the endangered animals -- they are compelling -- the snacks and the chance to talk to conservation scientists about their work.
This weekend, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute will be opening its doors to the public. You'll get to see the facility's collection of rare and endangered -- and sometimes just downright adorable -- animals.
Among them is the Mariana crow, a critically endangered bird whose natural habitat is just one island in Micronesia. You'll also see adorable tree-dwelling clouded leopards, which eat, among other things, porcupines and monkeys. Be sure to look at the Przewalski's horses, too -- these are stocky horses that are now extinct in the wild; the horses, alone in the equine world, have never been tamed. (Granted, this horse does not look so wild in its slideshow photo, given that it's playing with a toy ball.)
Other interesting animals on view will be black-footed ferrets, kiwis, red pandas, bison and domestic cows.
Discuss the circle of life over burgers, hotdogs (and vegetarian options) that will be for sale. Resident scientists will be on hand to talk about their work sustaining global biodiversity, too; there will also be live music and other entertainment.
Check out some of the cutie pies that will be on view at the Autumn Conservation Festival:
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/27587002@N07/6124488518/">Flickr photo by Jonathan Kriz</a>, used under a Creative Commons license.
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