A giant panda cub has undergone surgery to have a lemon-sized piece of bamboo removed from his intestine.
Bei Bei, the one-year-old male cub, was operated on at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s veterinary hospital on Friday after zookeepers noticed he was more sleepy than usual and had not much of an appetite.
Volunteer surgeons removed a large piece of bamboo from his intestine, a procedure which vets said saved his life.
He was returned to the zoo after the successful operation but will not enjoy bamboo again as part of his diet for some time.
Bei Bei, a one-year-old giant panda cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo, underwent surgery on Friday to have a lemon-sized lump of bamboo removed from his small intestine
Smithsonian zookeepers became concerned when Bei Bei, who normally boasts a ‘voracious appetite’ stopped eating.
Staff gave him anti-nausea medication and monitored his progress, bringing him to the veterinary hospital when they saw no signs of improvement.
There, vets performed an ultrasound of the panda cub’s stomach which revealed the large mass lodged in his small intestine.
They inserted an endoscopic camera to assess his condition before operating in Friday morning.
Bei Bei was later returned to the panda habitat to recover where he will be restricted to water overnight.
Zoo keepers will gradually introduce soft foods including sweet potatoes and pears back into his diet. The zoo said it planned to chop his bamboo more finely in the future.
‘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 Director Dennis Kelly on Friday.
Zookeepers noticed something was wrong when Bei Bei, who normally has an impressive appetite, stopped eating
The panda cub (above in a previous photograph) is now recovering in his enclosure at the Smithsonian
Bei Bei was born in August last year. He is pictured above being examined by vets immediately afterwards
Michelle Obama visited the zoo in September last year to name the panda with the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China
‘Bei Bei’s prognosis is very good. The challenge will be for our team to monitor him safely and that requires his cooperation.
‘We will keep everyone up to speed as he recovers,’ he added.
Bei Bei is one of four giant pandas currently being cared for by the zoo. Earlier this month, keepers gave an excited update on his growth and detailed his impressive appetite.
‘Bei Bei is becoming more and more independent from his mother Mei Xiang every day.
‘He has a voracious appetite, and relies very little on milk from Mei Xiang. He weighs 90 pounds (the largest of Mei Xiang’s three cubs at this age) and gets his own diet of bamboo, biscuits, apples, sweet potatoes and pears,’ said panda keeper Nicole MacCorkle.
Bei Bei was named by Michelle Obama and the First Lady of the People’s Republic of China Peng Liyuan last September.
He is the second cub of Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who are also cared for at the zoo. Bao Bao, their female cub, is housed there.
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