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National Zoo's panda cam falls victim to government shutdown

Panda watchers around the world are faced this morning with the bleak reality of the US government shutdown also shutting down the popular panda cam.

Giant Panda on cam
This screenshot was taken shortly before the shutdown.
Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

The cutest victims of the government shutdown may well be the giant pandas at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, DC. Don't worry, the actual fuzzsters are just fine. It's our vicarious enjoyment of them that has taken a blow. The live panda cam has gone dark until Congress can sort out its budget issues.

The panda cam has been a great pick-me-up at any time, but especially so now that mama panda Mei Xiang has a cute little cub on display. The baby was born on August 23. Cam-watchers have seen it grow from a nearly hairless little stub of a cutebug into a pint-sized critter with all the right panda markings.

The shutdown is coming down hard on agencies like NASA. You can't even visit the NASA Web site. But the loss of the panda cam is putting a real damper on morale for those of us who count on the cute. We can pretty much guarantee that Mei Xiang and her little one are still just as adorable as always. We just can't see it.

"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 National Zoo posted on Facebook.

The panda cam isn't the only casualty of the shutdown. The otter cam, cheetah cam, octopus cam, tiger cub cam and naked mole-rat cam (No, not the naked moles rats, too!) have also gone dark.

However long it takes the politicians to hammer out a new agreement and put the government back in gear is going to feel like years without the panda cam to distract us from the worries of the world. On a positive note, work productivity may rise without the panda cam to distract us from our jobs.