Pets & Animals

Cub obsession forces National Zoo to limit panda cam viewing time

Way to go, panda lovers: You broke the panda cam. Well, not exactly, but the public's insatiable thirst for giant panda Mei Xiang and her tiny cub has forced the Smithsonian's National Zoo to limit the stream's viewing period to just 15 minutes. That means no more staring at your panda-filled screen in a trance state and avoiding your pesky work. 

But don't fret: After your 15 minutes are up, you can click refresh for another quarter hour of cuteness. (Because we all know staring at baby animals actually increases productivity.) 

The patience of a devoted group of panda cam observers was rewarded during the wee hours of Thursday morning, when Mei Xiang placed her squealing cub on the den floor for all to admire. 

"You’ll see the tiny cub has a round belly which indicates to the panda team that it is nursing well," reports a press release from the zoo. "Also, the cub has a great set of lungs. There is a lot of squawking until Mei carefully picks the cub up again and cradles it."

Mei gave birth to her pinkish little one at the zoo last Friday, after two weeks of "licking and cradling her toys" for practice. The zoo still doesn't know the sex of the cub, which weighed in at less than a third of a pound at birth.

Fifteen-year-old Mei, who was artificially inseminated, certainly learned a thing a two from her practice cuddling sessions. Since the cub's birth, she has been keeping close watch over her young one, preventing zoo staff from conducting a second examination. 

In case you missed the rare panda cam moment (how dare you rest those eyes at 3:37 a.m.), the zoo released a YouTube clip of the short-lived mother-cub separation. Stayed tuned for more of their adorable antics, but seriously, try to get some sleep.