FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2011 file photo, Mei Xiang, the female giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, eats breakfast. Mei Xiang has given birth to a cub following five consecutive pseudopregnancies in as many years. National Journal

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Washington loves zoos.

It's a simple fact. The capital city's attention was captured by a red panda that escaped from the National Zoo on Monday and later found in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, while campaigning for president last year, famously visited zoos while on the trail.

And now zoos are being used to unify Washington types who share political differences. Time magazine took former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, two adversaries on cable television, to the National Zoo to talk policy.

Both men, despite their differences and previous barbs, left the zoo in one piece, but not without sharing a few jabs and some quirky moments.

"I saw something there I thought I'd like to feed Grover to and that was that giant Komodo," said Simpson. "I said, 'Grover, you'd look good inside there.' "¦ He laughed."

Norquist was captivated more by the animals.

"Oh, we saw lions, we saw tigers," Norquist said. "It was like Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. It was great."

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This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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