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National Zoo's Panda Cam To Go Dark During Government Shutdown

The National Zoo's Panda Cam was a popular way to catch a glimpse of Mei Xiang and Tai Shan, who was born in 2005.
National Zoo
The National Zoo's Panda Cam was a popular way to catch a glimpse of Mei Xiang and Tai Shan, who was born in 2005.

If the federal government shuts down tomorrow, you won't be able to get into the Smithsonian museums or the National Zoo. But according to zoo officials, that shutdown won't be limited to the physical campus in Northwest D.C.—it will also affect the many web cameras that stream live images of everything from naked mole-rats and pandas to viewers across the country.

In a series of tweets this morning, the National Zoo clarified that it would close if Congress can't come to an agreement on federal spending by midnight tonight. During the shutdown, it reported, "all vehicle, pedestrian & bike paths into the Zoo will be closed. None of our live animal cams will be broadcast."

The zoo runs 15 live web cameras, the most popular of which is the Panda Cam. That camera has seen a surge of traffic in recent weeks, as Gianta Panda Mei Xiang has been caring for a month-old female cub.

That camera, along with the 14 others, will go dark if a shutdown occurs. "The [cameras] require federal resources, especially staff, to run. They have not been deemed essential during a shutdown," tweeted the zoo this morning.

The animals themselves will be fed and cared for, clarified the zoo.

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