Emergency surgery for giant panda cub at National Zoo

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s giant panda cub Bei Bei is and recovering following an emergency bowel obstruction surgery to remove a dense, masticated lemon-sized mass of bamboo.

The panda is in stable condition, according to the zoo.

“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. “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.”

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On Thursday, Bei Bei showed signs of stomach discomfort and nausea. He was sleeping more than normal and not eating. Bei Bei was given an anti-nausea medication injection and remained in his indoor enclosure under observation.  Zoo animal care and veterinary staff observed him closely throughout the day and made periodic checks overnight to monitor his condition.

Early Friday morning, Bei Bei was taken to the vet hospital for further evaluation. Volunteer Dr. Elyshia Hankin performed an ultrasound of his stomach and bowels revealing a blockage at the top of the small intestine.

Volunteer Dr. Sebastian Gordon performed life-saving surgery to remove the mass of bamboo that was distending the small intestine and preventing intestinal movement. Bei Bei is awake and recovering in the David M. Rubenstein Giant Panda Habitat. Bei Bei will be given water overnight and will then be transitioned to soft foods such as sweet potatoes, pears and ground up leaf-eater biscuits. When bamboo is added back to his diet, it will likely be finely cut leaves.  Bei Bei is expected to be on his normal diet in the near future.

The panda house is temporarily closed. The other pandas, Bao Bao, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian may be viewed in their outdoor yards.


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