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Zoo: Giant panda cub Bei Bei eating soft foods, improving

FILE — Giant panda cub Bei Bei is shown here celebrating his first birthday back in August 2016. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz, File)

WASHINGTON — National Zoo giant panda cub Bei Bei is bright, alert and eating several softened foods after “life-saving” surgery Friday morning to remove bamboo that was obstructing his bowels.

On Monday, the zoo said Bei Bei, who turned a year old in August,  is successfully nursing from his mother, Mei Xiang, and eating apple and softened biscuits.

However, bamboo is still too hard for him to digest.

Zoo keepers are shifting the cub from his mother during her feeding times, to keep Bei Bei from trying to eat bamboo.

In a statement, the zoo said the cub is being administered antibiotics and antacid in sweet potatoes.

Nursing provides extra comfort during recovery, according to the zoo.

On Friday, after Bei Bei showed signs of stomach discomfort and nausea, Dr. Sebastian Gordon, a veterinary surgeon, removed the lemon-sized mass, which was distending into the cub’s small intestine, preventing intestinal movement.

Immediately after the surgery, zoo Director Dennis Kelly had declared that “Bei Bei’s prognosis is very good.”

The panda house remains closed for the time being, according to the zoo.

When he can eat bamboo again, it will likely be in finely cut leaves, the zoo said.

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