Grove suspects that her interest in the zoo’s panda reality show has something to do with being a mom.
“When the last panda was born, and it died a few days later, that was really sad,” said Grove, who has one son. “Being a mother, you can kind of feel what she was going through.”
Her husband, she said, accepts her addiction: “We’ve been together a long time. He understands me. He tolerates my Panda Camness.”
Alyssa Marciniak, 26, an Arlington County research analyst for a government contractor, said she keeps the panda cam open on her desktop computer at work.
“Pretty much whenever I hear something from the pandas, I’ll click on it,” she said. “Some people at work think it’s cute, but one of my friends was like, ‘Are you watching the panda again?’ I said, ‘Yes, because it might be doing something exciting.’ He laughed, kinda.”
Marciniak is philosophical about her motives. “It’s sitting in a little cube, and so am I.”
Anna York, a graduate student and mental health worker from Lima, Ohio, said she watches multiple panda cams — the images beamed from San Diego and Atlanta are companions to those at the National Zoo, she said.
She estimated that she watches for a few minutes every few hours each day, and she feels completely justified in her panda voyeurism. “One of my research projects was on the fluctuating literacy rate in Moldova. So when you’re knee-deep in academic journals, you just need a few minutes to break and watch the pandas, and get back to work.”
Mary Wright Baylor, 60, a pastoral care nurse from Fairfax County, said she’s been occasionally distracted from the real world — as in, her daughter’s wedding this weekend — because she’s been so immersed in the panda cam. She watched it for 20 minutes straight one morning this week.
“My daughter the bride just told me that my fascination/obsession with the panda is ‘not normal’ Guess I need to pay her attn,” Baylor tweeted Friday to Anne Lane Witt, a friend who is an Episcopal priest in Mechanicsville, Va., and fellow panda-cam aficionado.
“Or maybe she will get it one day,” Witt wrote back. “[The pandas] are awesome, after all.”
“Srsly. Not sure I’ll get #pandacam reception at Shrine Mont,” Baylor replied, referring to the Virginia church camp where her daughter will get hitched. “I’ll have serious withdrawal, tho. You woman the cam 4 me, okay?”