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National Zoo’s Panda Cub Bei Bei Recovering from Emergency, ‘Life-Saving’ Surgery

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Source: Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute/Facebook
Source: Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute/Facebook

Bei Bei is on the mend.

Smithsonian’s National Zoo announced Friday that their beloved 15-month panda cub has been recovering from emergency bowel obstruction surgery.

“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,” director Dennis Kelly said in a statement on the zoo’s website. “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.”

Board-certified veterinary surgeon and volunteer Dr. Sebastian Gordo removed a dense, masticated lemon-sized mass of bamboo after Bei Bei was showing signs of stomach discomfort and nausea on Thursday.

“This morning, an ultrasound of his stomach and bowels revealed a blockage of chewed-up bamboo at the top of the small intestine,” the zoo announced on Facebook Friday. “Veterinarians performed life-saving surgery to remove the mass of bamboo that was distending the small intestine and preventing intestinal movement.”

However, Bei Bei is not out of the woods just yet. The giant cub will “be transitioned to soft foods such as sweet potatoes, pears and ground up leaf-eater biscuits” with bamboo (finely cut leaves) eventually added back to his normal diet.

And for the next few days, Bei Bei will be housed separately from his mother, Mei Xiang, at the David M. Rubenstein Giant Panda Habitat, and will not be featured on the panda cams.

Daily updates on Bei Bei’s recovery will be shared on the zoo’s social media.