After a lemon-size chunk of undigested bamboo landed star National Zoo panda Bei Bei on the operating table last month, the 1-year-old cub was back Monday and ready for adoring crowds.
“He is on the mend,” said Laurie Thompson, the zoo’s assistant curator of giant pandas.
Bei Bei endured the surgery for an intestinal blockage, rare for pandas, on Nov. 25 after he became nauseous and listless, and vomited twice.
As Bei Bei recovered, he was put on a diet of soft foods, the panda house was closed, and the panda cams turned off. Though he remains on a special diet, the cams are back on and the house is open.
“We’re very pleased with his recovery,” Thompson said. “He’s definitely still sleeping a little bit more, resting up after surgery. But he’s been amazingly great about eating and taking his medications.”
The zoo also announced Monday that its bird house will close Jan. 2 ahead of a $55 million renovation that will bring an exhibit focused on migratory birds.
“Experience Migration,” featuring nearly 100 species, is slated to open in spring 2020 and will feature “walk-through aviaries, interactive experiences and dynamic educational programming,” the zoo said in a statement.
“Birds are truly a shared resource,” the zoo’s director, Dennis Kelly, said in a statement. “With so many species showing alarming population declines, we must take steps to conserve birds and their shrinking habitats. Opening a major exhibition dedicated to the phenomenon of migration coupled with the scientific advances in the study of wild birds by our Migratory Bird Center and the Zoo’s migratory bird husbandry expertise will help raise awareness and tackle these issues head on.”
Zoo staff are seeking homes for birds not planned to be part of the collection, the statement said, but some, including flamingos and wild turkeys, will remain on display.