National Zoo opens solar-powered carousel in DC

BRETT ZONGKER Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Smithsonian's National Zoo is opening a new solar-powered carousel with hand-carved, hand-painted figures representing many endangered animals.

The Speedwell Foundation, a private family foundation based in Summit, N.J., donated $1.5 million of the $2.3 million cost to build the carousel. A zoo spokeswoman says donations covered the remainder.

The ride was named the Speedwell Foundation Conservation Carousel. It opened Monday and costs $3 per person to ride. Proceeds from ticket sales will support animal care and conservation research at the zoo.

The carousel is powered by 162 solar panels donated and installed by Pepco Energy Services. The zoo says any excess energy is redirected to the zoo's electrical grid.

There are 58 animals represented on the carousel. They include elephants, pandas, frogs, hummingbirds, blue crabs, lions and other critters.