National Zoo Reopens to Visitors After Shutdown

WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — A day after most furloughed federal employees went back to work — and the popular “panda cam” was turned back on — the Smithsonian’s National Zoo is open to visitors again.

The zoo opened its gates Friday morning. It was closed for nearly three weeks because of the government shutdown.

While giant panda Mei Xiang and her unnamed, 8-week-old female cub are still not on public display, visitors can see the cub’s father, Tian Tian.

The cub’s eyes have opened, and she can scoot around on her front legs.

Zoo director Dennis Kelly greeted visitors at the zoo’s main gate Friday morning. The zoo is also offering a 10 percent discount on food and merchandise through Sunday, and anyone 18 and younger also will be able to ride the zoo carousel for free.

Zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said the zoo opened a day later than the Smithsonian’s museums because the staff needed time to check all the buildings, paths and grounds. The zoo also worked to restore the staff’s regular schedules after they were cut back during the shutdown.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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