Two ways to see a giant panda for free:
First, if you live anywhere within reasonable driving distance to Washington DC, then you can see two giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian at the National Zoo for free. Admission is free at all Smithsonian Institute museums. And the National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian.
I didn’t take advantage of the parking at the zoo. I found free parking in the neighborhood with the downside that I had to move my car after two hours. The zoo parking is $15 for up to three hours, or $20 for over three hours. If you think you might make a habit of visiting the zoo, then get a membership. $70 will cover two adults for a year, and provide free parking for the whole day for every visit, only subject to availability.
Pardon the poor iPhone 3G video. The iPhone 3G doesn’t really support video, so any video is a small miracle.
The second way to see a giant panda is to watch these same pandas on the internet. There are two cameras available. I have had the best luck using Internet Explorer to see the cameras. Also note that there is a newsletter subscription form that is blocking the camera view. Click the white and red “X” to see the live video.