- Freak lightning storm kills 1, injures many on California beach
- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
Return of ‘Panda Cam’ engenders great joy at the zoo
Fans offer ways to keep it going if there is another shutdown
Question of the Day
For many, the most visible sign that the 16-day government shutdown was over wasn’t federal workers back on the job or barriers being removed from national memorials — it was the return of the “Panda Cam.”
Thousands of people clicked on to the National Zoo’s website at 10:30 a.m. Thursday to see Mei Xiang and her 2-month-old cub for the first time in more than two weeks.
But with the potential for another shutdown in January when government funding expires again, a number of the cam’s fans are wondering — and posting impassioned pleas to Facebook — whether the zoo can take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again in a few months.
“I’m wondering why u can’t find different funding besides the stupid government?? We waited 7 yrs to see a Mei baby!!” said one commenter to the zoo’s Facebook page. Others wondered why, since the camera page says it’s sponsored by Ford, it had to shut down in the first place.
It turns out the cam is partially sponsored by Ford, but is a project of the Smithsonian-run zoo in Northwest D.C. — and so it had to go dark Oct. 1 when funding for most of the government ran out. Federal employees maintain and run the camera, zooming in and panning out to keep the pandas in frame, but they were deemed nonessential and put on furlough.
Federal programs that have independent or outside funding were allowed to continue during the shutdown, but unfortunately for Panda Cam fans, that didn’t help in this case. While the high-definition cameras were donated by the Ford Motor Co. Fund, replacing 12-year-old equipment, the salaries of the zoo workers are paid by the federal government.
Some agencies did find workarounds when their popular programs were closed.
After severe criticism of its shutdown decisions, the Interior Department struck deals with a handful of states that donated money to the department to reopen national parks within their boundaries. Arizona paid $93,000 a day to fund the National Park Service rangers needed to reopen the Grand Canyon.
Zoo spokeswoman Jen Zoon said they haven’t looked into that kind of arrangement.
Ford, meanwhile, would not comment on whether it would be willing to put up more money to keep the cameras running if that was a possibility. Rather, they just said they’re happy that the cameras are back online.
“Ford is thrilled that everyone gets to see the pandas back in action, especially the baby one!” a statement from Ford said. “There are only about 1,600 Giant Pandas in the world today and great demand for the protection of this beloved species. The Ford Fund is proud to help support panda-monium around the globe.”
The panda pair spends most of the day sleeping and eating, but still draws a huge virtual crowd: the cam got 1.2 million views in just the first three weeks of the still-unnamed cub’s life, Ms. Zoon said.
People were outraged when the Panda Cam clicked off.
“To the U.S. Congress: Do you people have any idea how fast a baby giant panda grows? Imagine a soldier leaving a newborn child behind at home while serving his/her country and coming back a year later to find a toddler beginning to walk and talk,” one commenter on Facebook said. “We’ll never get these moments with Princess back. Ever. And it’s YOUR fault.”
Another commenter blamed Congress for making the country miss when the cub “crossed over from being extremely cute to what I call the ‘excruciatingly, painfully cute’ stage.”
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jacqueline Klimas covers Capitol Hill for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Bernard Sanders, Jeff Miller to announce VA reform deal
- Pelosi: Obama's leadership on Israel is 'strong'
- Libya now nation at risk with weak U.S. influence; embassy closes as chaos grows
- Madeleine Albright: 'The world's a mess'
- Netanyahu: We must defend our own people
Latest Blog Entries
- Miss. GOP chair: Huckabee distracting from GOP's reasonable pro-life stance
- Commerce Secretary 'optimistic' about U.S.'s economic standing worldwide
- Less than half of registered voters would re-elect their congressman, poll finds
- Half of registered voters in Va. would re-elect Sen. Mark Warner
- 2013 was second most polarizing year of Obama's presidency
TWT Video Picks
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's trial to test definitions of political corruption
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- HUSAIN: Fleeing Iraqi Christians find safe haven at the Shrine of Imam Ali
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq