Friday, August 1, 2003, 11:30pm -- I'm on the Panda Cam!

I flew back to San Jose from San Diego this evening. Before my flight left, I visited the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo. I waited in line for 10 minutes or so (the pandas are clearly the most popular attraction at the Zoo) and then was able to view the two giant pandas on display at fairly close range.

Just now, I was taking a look at the San Diego Zoo website. The homepage for the Zoo includes a link to a "Panda Cam" webpage, where they have a live video shapshot of the panda enclosures. I also noticed that they have an archive of the Panda Cam video footage from the previous 10 days, presented in time-lapse format, with images taken every 2 minutes throughout each day.

I looked through the Panda Cam archive video for August 1st, wondering if the camera saw me while I was pondering the pandas this afternoon; taller zoo patrons are sometimes visible in the corner of the time-lapse videos. Sure enough, after a little bit of searching, I found myself in the San Diego Zoo Panda Cam time-lapse image from 4:32pm today. I've grabbed some frames from the video stream and included them below. That's me in the blue shirt, having gone without a haircut for 14 weeks, apparently giving a left-handed salute to Gao Gao the giant panda as he munches on bamboo (actually, I think I was just shading my eyes from the sun at that particular moment).

I plan to contact my attorney on Monday to discuss taking legal action against the Giant Panda Research Station, the Zoo, and the City of San Diego. In the course of their efforts to provide real-time remote panda viewing opportunities to hundreds of millions of Internet users, my rights to privacy and anonymity have been unabashedly violated. Without my permission, and even without my knowledge, my image was recorded, and is being distributed around the world, complete with an obvious timestamp that allows anyone to track my whereabouts to the nearest meter and second. Is this the new techno-Utopia? Panda watchers beware -- Big Brother is watching you!

Images captured from the San Diego Zoo Panda Cam website:

David Koller (