Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
The National Zoo’s pandas just couldn’t get anything right. Female Mei Xiang couldn’t get pregnant, and male Tian Tian was so bad at doing the deed that the Washington Post
called him a “clueless breeder.” When they finally did have a cub, things got even worse, with the never-named baby dying six days later. (Then Rusty the red panda escaped and took zoogoers’ hearts with him.) The two giant pandas were so bad at representing their species that the Chinese government wanted to switch them out. Could a move off Metro farecards be far behind? But it turns out there was nothing wrong with the pandas that having a baby couldn’t solve. Thanks to a healthy, thriving new cub and news stories that pitched the end of the panda livestream as a symbol of everything wrong with the federal government shutdown, the pandas are munching their bamboo in the spotlight once again.