May 2, 2009

Zoo panda gets a colonoscopy

Giving a panda at the National Zoo in Washington a colonoscopy was a complicated procedure involving 10 employees, zoo officials said.

Tai Shan, born at the zoo almost four years ago, needed the colonoscopy to determine whether he had recovered from eosinophilic colitis, which he developed last year, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The panda had to fast for a day before the procedure Friday. But he did not need to prepare by drinking quantities of liquid to clear his colon, as humans ordinarily do.

At 7:30 a.m., Tai Shan was given an anesthetic and then moved from the Panda House to the zoo hospital. In addition to the colonoscopy, he got X-rays and blood was withdrawn for testing.

As an endangered species, it's important we learn as much as possible at the same time, said Suzan Murray, the head veterinarian at the zoo.

The good news is that Tai Shan appears to have made a complete recovery, said Carlos Sanchez, the vet who performed the colonoscopy. The zoo is waiting for biopsy results to confirm that.