For Release: December 18, 2007
Lainie Contreras (202) 633-3082 or (202) 409-3732
Pamela Baker-Masson (202) 633-3084 or (202) 380-2963
National Zoo Panda Has Eye Surgery
Tian Tian (tee-YEN tee-YEN), the 10-year-old male giant panda at Smithsonian’s National Zoo, underwent surgery this past Sunday to treat an inflamed third eyelid in his right eye. Histopathology lab test results that came back today confirmed that it was nothing more serious, although the cause is unclear.
Animal care staff first noticed the condition a few days before. Initial treatment with topical medication did not resolve the inflammation, so doctors performed an examination under anesthesia. Dr. Nancy Bromberg, a veterinary ophthalmologist from SouthPaws Veterinary Referral Center in Fairfax, Va., removed the affected tissue. Veterinarians are now treating Tian Tian with antibiotic eye drops and ointment, and he is responding well. Following Sunday’s surgery, Tian Tian also underwent a complete physical, which shows that he is in good health overall.
A panda’s third eyelid is rarely seen and usually covers the eye protectively when the outer lids are closed. The membrane contains a tear gland that helps lubricate the eye, but because each eye has two such glands, Tian Tian is expected to make a full recovery. Dogs and cats have a similar third eyelid.
Tian Tian is one of three pandas at the National Zoo’s Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat: Mei Xiang (may-SHONG) is an adult female, and Tai Shan (tie-SHON) is the 2-year-old cub born to Mei Xiang and Tian Tian. For more information about the Zoo’s pandas, please visit http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas/.
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