- - Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Betty White is headed to Washington to see the wildlife — not the donkeys and elephants on Capitol Hill, but the animals in the National Zoo.

She will stop at the Smithsonian on Thursday and then visit the zoo on Friday to indulge her passion: animal watching. She’s looking forward to viewing the zoo’s fertility-challenged pandas and a harmonica-playing elephant, among other animals.

“My interest in animals started in the womb,” the 90-year-old actress told the Associated Press. “I think my mother’s and father’s started in the same place. They were animal nuts long before I came along.”

In the District, Miss White will visit a sold-out crowd Thursday at the Smithsonian Associates, an educational division of the museum complex. And she will sign copies of her book, “Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo.”

It’s a mostly picture book compiled over the years with facts about animals. Since 1974, Miss White has served as a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. So she gives readers a tour of animals at the Los Angeles Zoo and many other leading zoos across the country.

Mark David Chapman, shown in 1975, has been moved to a prison near Buffalo, N.Y. He was convicted of killing John Lennon. (Associated Press)
Mark David Chapman, shown in 1975, has been moved to a prison ... more >

When Miss White has a chance to visit a zoo, she said she likes to stay for a long time and watch the animals relax. She wrote her book to let people know about all the good zoos do.

“So many people say, ‘Oh, I hate zoos. I want all the animals to be back in their natural habitat,’ ” she said. “Well, you know what we’ve done to their natural habitat.

“Without zoos, we would have lost already so many species.”

On Friday, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will roll out the red carpet to give Miss White a look at its research efforts behind the scenes. She will also sign copies of her book.

Zookeepers plan to show her the Asian elephants up close, including Shanthi who plays harmonica with her trunk, as well as the popular pandas, the great apes and the Panamanian golden frog. The zoo is leading an effort to fight a fast-spreading fungus blamed for wiping out dozens of amphibian species.

Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ opens 65th Cannes festival

The sunbaked Cannes Film Festival got under way with Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” whose carefully composed whimsy stood in stark contrast to the zoolike atmosphere at the annual French Riviera extravaganza.

Mr. Anderson’s film, which was shown to the press before its official premiere Wednesday evening, opened the 65th edition of Cannes. While that anniversary — marked by festival posters of Marilyn Monroe — suggests maturity, “Moonrise Kingdom” began things on a childlike note.

The film is about two preteens (newcomers Jared Gilman and Kaya Heyward) in love and running away together on a remote New England island in a 1965, Norman Rockwell-esque America. Stamped with Mr. Anderson’s trademark visual style to almost the degree of his animated “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” the movie is seen mostly from the point of view of the kids.

Earlier in the day, farther down the Croisette, the city’s famous promenade, the zoo of Cannes took on a literal sense.

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