The Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. recently launched a hashtag that became a trending topic on Twitter. Was it another escaped animal (that might even start its own Twitter account à la @BronxZoosCobra)? Nope – this time the object of Twitter fascination was the artificial insemination of Mei Xiang, a 13 year-old panda, on April 30, 2012.
The last time a baby panda was produced at the National Zoo was back in 2005, but every year the Zoo tries to impregnate Mei Xiang again. This time, rather than issuing the standard press release, the process was live-tweeted the whole way through, using hashtag #pandaAI.
While it might have been too much detail for some, it was “a brilliant use of social media,” according to DCist. Scientists were introduced via Twitter, pics posted, and the Zoo officials did their best to answer questions coming in from the public under the hashtag. Anyone following the hashtag via phone or computer could basically view the whole process.
What do you think? Was this an effective way for the Zoo to engage the public and educate them about a previously behind-the-scenes procedure? For those who felt it was too much information, check out this Washington Post compilation of other, “Should you really be tweeting that?” live-tweeted events, including a step-by-step colonoscopy.
Below is a Storify compilation of #pandaAI as released by the National Zoo: