Pos­i­tive signs for panda af­ter in­testines op

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By HUANG ZHILING in Chengdu huangzhiling@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A gi­ant panda that un­der­went surgery this month to re­move an in­testi­nal block­age is re­cov­er­ing well, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts at the Chengdu Re­search Base of Gi­ant Panda Breed­ing.

De­spite the rain, Nan Nan, a 3-year-old fe­male, was seen on Sun­day morn­ing leisurely eat­ing a break­fast of bam­boo leaves on a hill­side in Sichuan prov­ince.

“She is re­cov­er­ing from her op­er­a­tion to re­move an ob­struc­tion in her in­testines,” a con­di­tion that can prove fa­tal for pan­das, said Lan Jingchao, head of the base’s an­i­mal hospi­tal.

In fact, Nan Nan could be the first to sur­vive the surgery, ac­cord­ing to Zhang Zhihe, di­rec­tor of the re­search base. He said that in the 1990s a panda with the same symp­toms died af­ter a sim­i­lar op­er­a­tion.

On the morn­ing of Dec 1, keep­ers no­ticed that Nan Nan was rest­less and was hav­ing trou­ble defe­cat­ing. Vet­eri­nar­i­ans went on to re­move about 2 kilo­grams of drop­pings from her trans­verse colon, de­scend­ing colon and recta.

“We thought she was OK, but the symp­toms re­turned in the evening,” said Yang Zhi, who is in charge of dis­ease pre­ven­tion and con­trol at the base.

An ul­tra­sound ex­am­i­na­tion showed a large block­age af­fect­ing Nan Nan’s colon, de­scend­ing colon and sig­moid flex­ure.

Again, nearly 2 kg of drop­pings were re­moved, but the vets could not ac­cess the up­per part of her colon.

“We had to ask ex­perts from the Nu­clear In­dus­try 416 Hospi­tal in Chengdu for help,” Lan said.

He said that on the morn­ing of Dec 3, a team of 11 sur­geons, anes­thetists and nurses from the hospi­tal per­formed surgery on the panda at the base.

In an op­er­a­tion that lasted two hours, doc­tors cut open Nan Nan’s in­testi­nal wall and ex­tracted about 2.8 kg of drop­pings.

Yet the work was only half done. Pan­das have sharp claws, and when Nan Nan feels itchy, she will scratch, which could re­open the wound and cause an in­fec­tion, ac­cord­ing to Yang Kuix­ing in the base’s an­i­mal man­age­ment of­fice.

Two work­ers have been tak­ing turns to stay in her den around the clock. When­ever she tries to touch, bite or lick her wound, panda keeper Dai Sha said they shout “Nan Nan, stop!”

She added, “Al­though she can’t un­der­stand what we say, it di­verts her at­ten­tion.”

Be­fore the op­er­a­tion, Nan Nan would usu­ally eat more than 10 kg of food a day. Over the past two weeks, her ap­petite has grad­u­ally started to re­cover and she is now eat­ing 2 to 3 kg of bam­boo leaves and bread a day.

“We fear too much food could be detri­men­tal to her re­cov­ery, but she is get­ting enough nu­tri­ents, as she gets a liq­uid made of trace el­e­ments, pro­tein and amino acid,” Lan said.

Doc­tors have said it will take Nan Nan at least six months to make a full re­cov­ery, he added.

HUANG SHIQI / CHINA TIMES

ZHANG ZHIHE / FOR CHINA DAILY

Nan Nan, a fe­male gi­ant panda, undergoes surgery on Dec 3 for an in­testi­nal block­age at the Chengdu Re­search Base of Gi­ant Panda Breed­ing, Sichuan prov­ince.

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