The National Zoo’s 15-month-old panda cub Bei Bei is recovering after veterinarians performed emergency bowel obstruction surgery Friday.
The culprit? “A dense, masticated lemon-sized mass of bamboo,” according to a post on the zoo’s website. Here’s the tick-tock of the digestive drama:
“On Thursday, Nov. 24, giant panda cub 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.
“Earlier this morning, Nov. 25, Bei Bei was taken to the vet hospital for further evaluation. Volunteer Dr. Elyshia Hankin, board-certified veterinary radiologist at the Friendship Hospital for Animals, performed an ultrasound of his stomach and bowels revealing a blockage at the top of the small intestine. 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.”
“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 the release.
According to the statement, Bei Bei will be in a separate enclosure and away from the panda cams for a few days as he recovers. But the zoo will post daily recovery updates on social media.
“Bei Bei’s prognosis is very good,” Kelly said.
Bei Bei isn’t quite out of the (bamboo) woods yet, though. The zoo statement said that in order to get his “gastrointestinal tract moving smoothly” again, 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.”
The statement added: “When bamboo is added back to his diet, it will likely be finely cut leaves.”