A giant baby panda, who is the star attraction at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington DC, is recovering after an emergency surgery performed on Friday (25 November). The bowel obstruction surgery was done to remove a dense, masticated lemon-sized mass of bamboo.

Authorities said the 15-month-old, who celebrated his first birth anniversary in August, is now secure and the "prognosis is very good".

The bowel surgery was necessitated following the panda cub showing signs of stomach discomfort and nausea the previous day. He was also sleeping more than usual and not eating. An ultrasound report showed a blockage "at the top of the small intestine".

"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," Dennis Kelly, director at Smithsonian's National Zoo, said.

"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," Kelly added.

For his smooth recovery, Bei Bei will be housed separately from his mother Mei Xiang, officials said.

The zoo authorities added that the baby panda will be given water overnight and later will be "transitioned" to soft foods such as sweet potatoes and pears, while keeping his health in mind.

Bei Bei, who was born on 22 August 2015, was given the name by the first ladies of the US and China, Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan. His name means "precious".

Bei Bei panda
Giant baby panda, Bei Bei, is recovering from emergency bowel surgery REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo