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National Zoo panda cam back online; staff takes time for checks before grounds reopen Friday

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WASHINGTON - The Smithsonian's National Zoo's panda cam is back online, but the zoo itself is taking more time to reopen after the government shutdown.

The webcam went live Thursday morning, giving fans a view of the larger cub wriggling about as mom Mei Xiang tucked her paws under her chin and watched.

Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson says the cam reached capacity — 850 connections at once — within 10 minutes. Viewers are limited to 15 minutes before they must refresh.

The zoo will reopen to the public Friday. Baker-Masson says staff members need time to check all the buildings and grounds. The zoo is working to restore staffers' regular schedules.

The zoo will welcome visitors back with discounts and free carousel rides for visitors under 18 through Sunday.

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