Government shutdown would hit National Zoo

Panda cams would be turned off

By VERONICA STRACQUALURSI, CNN
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Giant panda Bao Bao plays in her outdoor habitat at the Smithsonian's National Zoo Feb. 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Expect pandemonium. If Congress fails to avert a government shutdown by its Friday deadline, the popular panda cameras at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington will be turned off, according to a statement from the Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian's lion and elephant cameras will also go dark if the federal government is shut down, the statement read.

If a shutdown occurs, visitors will still be able to visit the National Zoo, as well as Smithsonian museums, over the weekend. But the zoo and the museums would be closed beginning Monday.

The panda cams allow curious folk and panda enthusiasts to watch the three giant pandas -- Tian Tian, Mei Xiang and Bei Bei -- while they play, roam around, sleep and chomp on bamboo. The cameras also permit researchers to collect behavioral data on the pandas.

The cameras live-stream on the zoo's website 24/7, but they aren't trained on the pandas during the zoo's non-business hours.

The Smithsonian statement noted that if the federal government shuts down, the zoo's animals will still receive food and other care.

"A shutdown will not affect the Zoo's commitment to the safety of staff and the standard excellence in animal care," the statement read.

The Smithsonian said it is following the same procedure it implemented during the 2013 government shutdown.

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