A large crowd of eager visitors rushed past the gate of the Smithsonian's National Zoo Friday morning as the zoo reopened for the first time since the government shutdown.
A large crowd of eager visitors rushed through the gate of the Smithsonian's National Zoo Friday morning as the zoo reopened for the first time since the government shutdown.
The entire zoo staff -- along with the zoo's panda mascot -- gathered at the front gate on Connecticut Avenue to greet guests at 10 a.m.
"He's a funny panda," squealed one of the zoo's youngest visitors as she danced with the giant panda mascot.
The zoo is the last Smithsonian property to reopen after the end of the government shutdown. The Smithsonian's museums reopened Thursday.
Tourist Lana Golden said, "Everything's back open and I said, 'Alright, what do you want to see?,' and they said see the pandas, the zoo."
Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said the zoo is also offering a 10 percent discount on food and merchandise at the zoo through the weekend. Anyone 18 and younger also will be able to ride the zoo carousel for free.
The zoo's online panda cam was turned back on Thursday to give visitors a live look at the zoo's giant panda cub. Within 10 minutes of relaunching, the website reached its capacity of 850 video connections at once.
Since the panda cam went dark, the cub -- now eight weeks old -- weighs more than five pounds, and her eyes have partially opened.
The public will not be able to see the cub in person until its a little older.