Panda Cam Goes Dark: Government Shutdown Ruins The One Thing We Can All Agree On

By Josh Lieberman on October 1, 2013 5:30 PM EDT

panda
The National Zoo's panda cam has been forced offline by the government shutdown. Mei Xiang (above) and her new cub will go unwatched by the Internet hordes until the government gets its act together. (Photo: Reuters)

Well, this really is too much. It's one thing for the government shutdown to bring boring old agencies like NASA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to their knees, but quite another for the National Zoo's panda cam to go dark. As of this morning, the panda cam is indeed down.

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"If the federal government shuts down on October 1, the Smithsonian's National Zoo will be closed to the public," the zoo said in a press release. "All the animals will continue to be fed and cared for. A shutdown will not affect our commitment to the safety of our staff and standard of excellence in animal care."

The Smithsonian, which runs the National Zoo, is 70 percent funded by federal money. The zoo has a total of 15 live cams, two of which are devoted to pandas. The panda cam racks up thousands of views a day to follow the exploits of Mei Xiang and her new cub, born in August. (The exploits mostly involve a lot of sleeping.)

The National Zoo's panda cam is actually not funded by the federal government, making this situation all the more tragic. The Ford Motor Company sponsors the panda cam, which volunteers help run, but a National Zoo spokesperson told The Huffington Post that volunteers are prohibited from the grounds during the shutdown.

Facebook and Twitter users lamented the panda cam shutdown, as such users tend to do. "A world without the panda cam is a world without happiness," wrote Caitlin Bauer on the National Zoo's page. "CONGRESS, GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER. FOR THE LOVE OF THE BABY PANDA," shouted Lauren Jenkins on the same page. "The Panda Cam is dead. Long live the other Panda Cam," tweeted Caitlin Kelly, who included a link to the Atlanta Zoo's panda cam.

There are, in fact, a number of other panda cams like the Atlanta Zoo's. Time magazine has a roundup of two other panda cams for your viewing pleasure, plus a bunch of other animal cams, if pandas aren't your thing. The penguin cam alone (below) should tide the nation over for at least three or four government shutdown days.

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Live video by Animal Planet L!ve

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