Giant panda cub recovering after removal of “lemon-sized” bamboo mass from intestine

A giant panda cub continues to recover from emergency surgery at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

The 14-month-old panda, named Bei Bei, started showing signs of stomach pain, nausea, wasn’t eating and sleeping more than usual on Thursday. Veterinarians used an ultrasound and found a “lemon-sized mass of bamboo” obstructing his small intestine. They removed it from the 90-pound panda during a the “life-saving surgery” Friday morning.

“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,” the facility’s director Dennis Kelly, said in a statement. “Bei Bei’s prognosis is very good. The challenge will be for our team to monitor him safely and that requires his cooperation.”

Bei Bei is recovering from emergency bowel obstruction surgery at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo/Facebook

Over the weekend, he was reintroduced to his mother, Mei Xiang.

“Mei Xiang and Bei Bei began to respond to each other’s vocalizations,” zookeepers said in an update on Facebook. “Bei Bei actively climbed around his den so keepers decided to reintroduce Mei Xiang and Bei Bei to help him settle down. After an initial period of high activity during the introduction, Bei Bei nursed for 20 minutes and they both fell asleep.”

Bei Bei is being given water and soft foods such as sweet potatoes, pears and ground up leaf-eater biscuits. Bamboo will be introduced to his diet, but at first in only finely cut leaves. But he should be able to return to his normal diet down the road.

Bei Bei is interacting with keepers and his mother after life-saving surgery. Smithsonian's National Zoo/Facebook
Bei Bei is interacting with keepers and his mother after life-saving surgery. Smithsonian’s National Zoo/Facebook

“Our animal care team really appreciates your messages and well wishes for Mei Xiang and Bei Bei,” the Washington, D.C.-based facility posted on Facebook in response to the outpouring of well-wishes.

Bei Bei is "well ahead" the learning curve in cooperating with vets and keepers. Smithsonian's National Zoo
Bei Bei is very independent and “well ahead” the learning curve in cooperating with vets and keepers/Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

Photos Smithsonian’s National Zoo/Facebook


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