For 16 days, as the United States suffered through an inane federal government shutdown, the Smithsonian National Zoo's panda cam was unavailable to the public. Such a loss apparently weighed heavy in the hearts of panda lovers, for when the camera was once again turned on Thursday, the website was immediately overwhelmed with viewers

"The panda cam went live at 10:36 this morning I believe," Devin Murphy, communications officer at the zoo in Washington, D.C., said Thursday. "Within 10 minutes we had reached the maximum number of connections that we can accommodate for the panda cam, so we've been troubleshooting those issues throughout the day."

Even talk show host Conan O'Brien couldn't resist getting in on the popularity of the panda cam, setting up his audience for an amusing sketch of what the first people saw when the lights came back on. 

Check it out below — and if you too have been missing you're panda cam fix, hit the official live stream here

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Watch as Conan witnesses the return of the 'Panda Cam'
Talk show host gives his audience a hilarious front-row seat to the return of the Smithsonian National Zoo's panda cam.