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National Zoo To Open New 'American Trail' Exhibit

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A sea lion zips along, visible from the American Trail's underwater cave.
Armando Trull
A sea lion zips along, visible from the American Trail's underwater cave.

If you want to experience America's Pacific Northwest, you don't have to get on a plane. A new exhibit is opening at the National Zoo Saturday that will bring the "American Trail" to Connecticut Ave.

"We created a habitat here that really simulates the Pacific Northwest," says Chuck Fillah. "We have sea lions. We have a huge wave machine that actually creates an environment similar to the West Coast."

Visitors can view the sea lions from the top of their massive 300,000 gallon pool, but also underwater in a cave through which they can walk.

And it's not just sea lions. Also on display are ravens, beavers, otters, eagles, pelicans and a pair of grey wolves.

"We have two grey wolves," says animal keeper Rebecca Miller. "These guys were actually hand-raised at Calgary Zoo, so they're very accustomed to being in with us. And they will sometimes come up to the fence."

After all that walking around in a very realistic Northwest American Trail, there's also a specialized tidepool in which visitors can dip their tired feet.

The American Trail opens Sept. 1.

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