Bei Bei started looking ill on Thanksgiving, and zoo staff suddenly realized something was very, very wrong.
A panda cub at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. had to be rushed into emergency surgery on Friday after the staff noticed he was feeling ill on Thanksgiving Day and then later found a lemon-sized knot of bamboo lodged in his intestines that would not come out on its own.
Fortunately, Bei Bei is recovering nicely after the surgery, but it was quite the scare for the adorable panda, which is 1 year old and is the youngest of the four giant pandas at the zoo. Staff saw signs of stomach discomfort and nausea on Thursday, and noticed he had been sleeping longer and didn’t seem to be hungry for anything, according to a Zoo statement.
When veterinarians performed an ultrasound Friday morning, they saw a blockage in his small intestine that could threaten his life. They promptly removed it to prevent further damage.
The 90-pound cub will now consume liquids before moving on to soft foods and then bamboo down the road when his recovery his complete.
“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.”