Forget the government workers and contractors going without salary, the services put on hold, or the national parks that were closed. The collateral damage of the federal shutdown that put a real shudder through the Twittering masses was the temporary hiatus of the Panda Cam.
And the masses were understandably attached to the panda, which they voted on its 100-day birthday to be named Bao Bao, or precious. They watched the panda’s mother Mei Xiang give birth to the cub in August, and on the day before the Oct. 1 shutdown, at least 102,000 people tuned into Panda Cam to say their temporary goodbyes. When it did go back up, 110,000 people, not including viewers using the zoo’s mobile app, clicked to watch. The number likely would have been higher, but the website can only accommodate 850 connections viewing the cameras at a time. So the shutdown taught us that America really loves pandas, but it left one big unanswered question: If a baby panda rolls around and it’s not captured on camera, does it really roll around at all?