While the end result is uncertain — Mei Xiang is 13 years old and hasn’t produced offspring in seven years — the process was fascinating to watch. We all probably learned far too much about how scientists at the National Zoo go about trying to conceive another panda, and even came to know that the sperm that was used today dated back to 2005 — yep, it was “vintage sperm” from the year Butterstick was born. (Sadly, now we have to sit and wait to see if this process was successful.)

But it was a brilliant use of social media. With little more than a phone and a hashtag — #pandaAI — the National Zoo very literally threw open a process that was until now only known through after-the-fact accounting by the media.

Here, in all of its glory, was how the process played out — and how some people reacted.

Martin Austermuhle blogs at DCist . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.