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VIDEO: Sea Lions, Otters Swim for the Crowd

The American Trail opened at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on Sept. 1.

As the sea lions zipped, dipped and flipped by the underwater observation window of their new home on the American Trail at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, kids squealed with delight from the viewing area.

When the sea lions got out of the water for a rest, they roared a bit. They seemed quite pleased with their new home.

The American Trail—which used to be called "Beaver Valley," after a species of beavers living in the area—opened on Saturday, Sept. 1, after five years of renovations. The trail "[highlights] animals native to the United States and Canada that were once in danger of becoming extinct but have come back from the brink and are thriving because of conservation efforts," according to a zoo statement. 

The American Trail's residents (seven of which were rescued from the wild) include:

  • Four California sea lions.
  • A gray seal. (Three additional gray seals will arrive later this fall.)
  • Two gray wolves—a species never exhibited before at the National Zoo.
  • Three North American beavers.
  • Four ravens—another species never exhibited before at the National Zoo.
  • Two hooded merganser ducks.
  • Two North American river otters.
  • Two brown pelicans.
  • A bald eagle.

Two harbor seals—another species not exhibited before at the zoo—will arrive later this fall.

The trail is accessible to handicapped individuals, and a new food kiosk—the Seal Rock Cafe—serves "fresh, local, sustainable seafood options that change with the seasons," the zoo's statement said.

And, at a tide pool area, "humans young and old can dip their toes in a shallow pool that contains artificial sea life such as barnacles, sea urchins and sea stars," the statement added.

Want to get to see the American Trail this weekend? Keep in mind . You could take the Red Line from Dupont Circle to Woodley Park/Zoo station or you could take the bus to Tenleytown and metro from there to the Zoo.

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