- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2013

While the federal government was shut down, the National Zoo’s beloved butterstick turned into a squealing ball of fluff.

Fans of the zoo’s female giant panda cub were treated to 21 seconds of video-recorded adorableness — their first glimpse of the cub in more than two weeks.

In the video, the cub can be seen squealing and flopping around on an exam table, the black and white bundle of fur trying valiantly to escape veterinarians and their tape measure.

Zoo officials said the cub, now eight weeks old, weighs 5 pounds, up from the 3 pounds she weighed at her last exam on Sept. 26.

The cub can now push herself up on her front two legs and right herself if she is flipped over on her back. Her ears are fully open, but zoo officials said her eyes are still developing and only partially open. She’ll be able to walk on her own when she is about four months old.

Zoo officials said the panda’s mother, Mei Xiang, is spending more time away from the cub, eating and drinking, and interacting with panda keepers.

The cub was born in late August to Mei Xiang, one of the zoo’s two resident adult giant pandas. When giant pandas are born, they are pink, hairless, and weigh and about as much as a stick of butter.

The video coincided with the powering up of the live “Panda Cam,” which had been switched off along with more than a dozen other cameras that needed federal funding to run. The zoo, which was also closed, is scheduled to reopen Friday.



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