How the National Zoo kept animals safe during massive blizzard

How the National Zoo protected its animals du... 03:30

The National Zoo in Washington is open again after getting hit with more than 20 inches of snow in the blizzard of 2016.

It took the zoo four days to weather the blizzard and during that time, a panda bear, Tian Tian, became an Internet star - to the point that when the zoo reopened Wednesday, his fans were waiting to catch a glimpse of the panda, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford.

With much of the East Coast still socked by a winter storm, the viral video showing the giant panda having one heck of a snow day was a jolt of joy.

Watch: Baby panda Bao Bao reacts to her first... 00:27

"That first snowfall, Tian Tian goes out and he goes crazy," said Brandie Smith, Associate Director for Animal Care Sciences.

The Facebook video of Tian Tian's enthusiasm -- rolling in the snow, throwing it on himself -- got nearly 60 million views.

"He's a 19-year-old bear but he acts like a cub at the first snowfall. The second, third and fourth snow, he's a little less interested," Smith said.

And sure enough, by Wednesday, the snow was old hat -- Tian Tian was focused on finding his bamboo.

But even that delighted his fans when they came face to face with the online sensation.

Snow is panda time -- it's their natural habitat.

"This is the best thing for pandas," panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle told CBS News during another major storm last year. "This is their favorite time of year. As much as we're hating it, they're enjoying it."

And they're not the only ones. As the snow piled up this past week, other animals joined in on the fun.

Niko, a river otter, mugged for the camera. Summer, a sea lion, took a swim and Wilma the bison used her head as a plow.

On Wednesday, Wilma was still frolicking in the snow with a friend.

But just like us humans, not every animal appreciates the white stuff, like flamingos.

"It could be too much. This pool is heated but it can't keep their feathers from freezing," said bird keeper Gwendolyn Cooper.

So during the blizzard, the birds moved inside.

Others like the monkeys and a ferret got the snow brought to them in their warm houses - all part of a balancing act to protect the animals and still let them have a little fun.

"We have to be here and there's no margin for error. So we have three thousand animals and all of them have to make it through the storm," Brandie said. "They did!"