WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) — The Smithsonian National Zoo’s 15-month-old panda cub is recovering Saturday following emergency surgery to remove a lemon-sized mass of bamboo stuck in his intestines, the zoo said.
Bei Bei was rushed into surgery on Friday after he started showing signs of stomach distress and was not eating, the zoo said. He was initially given an anti-nausea medication injection and remained in his indoor enclosure under observation. An ultrasound showed a mass distending his small intestines, preventing intestinal movement.
“Following an initial endoscopic exploration, it was clear to the veterinary team that the mass would not resolve itself on its own and the blockage needed to be removed surgically,” the zoo said.
Bei Bei was given water overnight and then transitioned to soft foods that included sweet potatoes, pears and ground up leaf-eater biscuits. Saturday morning, zoo keepers said he was interacting normally.
“When bamboo is added back to his diet, it will likely be finely cut leaves,” the zoo said. “There is every expectation Bei Bei will return to his normal diet in the near future.”
Bei Bei will be house separately from his mother Mei Xiang and off the zoo’s panda cam for a few days while he recovers. The panda house will be temporarily closed, but other pandas, Bao Bao, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, can be observed in their outdoor yards.
“I’m extremely proud and thankful for our team of keepers, veterinarians, animal care staff, volunteer medical experts and all staff who have helped facilitate the urgent response,” said Dennis Kelly, the zoo’s director. “Bei Bei’s prognosis is very good. The challenge will be for our team to monitor him safely and that requires his cooperation.”