When there's a problem with a municipal water system, the utility agency issues an advisory to the public, usually telling us to boil our water for safety or to use only bottled water. People do that, and when the danger is passed, go back to business as usual. But when Washington, DC, had a boil water advisory last month, the National Zoo had a problem. Some of their rare and exotic animals require hundreds of gallons of clean water daily, and others live in water. It was time to get creative.
The Amazonia exhibition at the Zoo replicates a rainforest habitat and staff quickly realized that the exhibition’s 28,000-gallon reservoir was the key to getting the entire park through the event, which lasted about 48 hours, says Nick Little, Aquatic Life Support Systems (LSS) operator. He and dozens of other staff hustled behind the scenes while few, if any, Zoo visitors had any inkling of trouble afoot, the Zoo operated on a normal schedule through the duration of the incident.
“As Rick Quintero, curator of LSS, was talking with other curators Zoo-wide], we recognized that Amazonia’s huge reservoir was full of water drawn before the crisis and perfectly safe for animal consumption,” says Little. “Our only concern was how to get it out” to any part of the Zoo that needed it.