News & Politics

National Zoo’s Panda Cam Is Back On

Fresh glimpses of a growing cub are more popular with Americans than the resumption of more vital government services.

The panda cub really packed it on when nobody was looking. Photograph courtesy of the National Zoo.
The National Institutes of Health can resume researching deadly diseases, Head Start programs will be funded, and the Federal Housing Authority can start processing home loans. But clearly, at least according to the internet, the most important government program to return today is the National Zoo’s panda camera, which is once again broadcasting round-the-clock surveillance footage of female giant panda Mei Xiang and her eight-week-old cub.
The video feeds overloaded with traffic almost immediately. While the cameras are running, actually being able to view the footage is a crapshoot. (Cameras are also rolling on several less popular species, too.)
The cub is also much plumper than it was the last time we saw it. Over the 16-day shutdown, the cub ballooned from 3.07 pounds to 5 pounds, or about a 66 percent weight gain. The female cub still can’t stand on her own, but she can at least roll over if she is lying on her back. The cub’s senses have also developed greatly since the outside world got its last glimpse on September 30. Her eyes are partially open, and her ears are fully open.
The zoo will re-open Friday. Until then, here’s video of the growing cub squawking and getting examined.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.