Newt Gingrich Says He Will Pay to Bring Back The Panda Cam

This isn't the first time he's shown a soft spot for animals

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Newt Gingrich handles a cockatoo, March 29 1996, on the Larry King Live show. The former House Speaker and animal lover told Talking Points Memo Friday that the closure of the Smithsonian National Zoo panda cam was one of the biggest disappointments of the shutdown.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s passion for pandas seems to transcend his politics.

The former Republican presidential candidate, who was a key figure in the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, told Talking Points Memo the closure of the Smithsonian National Zoo and its famed panda cam was “really, really sad.”

“I will personally pay the cost of panda cam’s electricity,” Gingrich said by phone. He pointed out that the San Diego Zoo’s panda cam is still live, but forgot to mention TIME’s very own panda cam.

While it may seem odd that Gingrich has a soft spot for pandas, he’s actually quite the animal lover. In August he posted an Instagram of himself playing with lemurs. He also once let a binturong sit atop his head and toted a Komodo dragon in a gym bag. Last year Gingrich even bottle fed a white tiger on television. He told CNN in 2011 that he once hoped to be a zoo director and has visited over 100 zoos.

Here’s a tumblr dedicated to the congressman’s many animal escapades.