Anticipation over the birth of the royal baby in London is not the only baby watch of interest in Washington. If anything, the capital endures a perpetual baby watch directed at the giant pandas at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. And watch we do on the famous “panda cams” that stream live, uninterrupted video from the bears’ private living spaces and nest.
New and improved panda cams went live on Monday at noon. They were shut down at the end of May for a variety of upgrades, including a conversion to high definition. According to the zoo, new features enable watchers to “stream live video of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian on any computer, tablet, or mobile device without having to refresh the webpage. Mei Xiang’s den cameras have also been upgraded to high-definition cameras. Panda fans the world over can watch her more clearly than ever before as she builds her nest.” The panda cam station in the David M. Rubenstein Family Giant Panda Habitat has also been renovated to include new, larger flat-screen monitors.
Now the questions are if and when there will be a new pregnancy. The zoo’s panda team is on the project day in and day out. Mei’s most recent ultrasound was July 3.
According to the zoo, the veterinary team “monitor Mei’s behavior especially closely after it has detected a secondary rise in her urinary progesterone. That rise will indicate the end of the breeding season is near, and she will experience a pseudopregnancy or give birth within 40 to 50 days.” If she’s pregnant she will spend more time in her den, making the panda cams a vital part of the process. According to the zoo’s Flickr feed, Monday is also Mei Xiang’s 15th birthday—she will receive a frozen fruit “cake” to celebrate.
The panda cams are funded through sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company.