Giant panda treated like national treasure when it comes to health care


WASHINGTON — Tian Tian means “more and more” — a good name for him because he’s the father of all three surviving giant pandas born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

His cubs are Tai Shan and Bao Bao, who are now in China, and two-year-old Bei Bei, who is still wowing the crowds in D.C.

At 20 years old, Tian Tian could father more cubs. So when he shows any signs of ill-health, he’s treated like a national treasure.

On Tuesday, there was good news: Chief Veterinarian Don Neiffer said the giant panda’s sore arm is not the result of arthritis.

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Chief Veterinarian Don Neiffer treats Tian Tian, the giant panda, in Washington, D.C.

CBS News

A more worrisome issue: Tian Tian has been losing weight even though his relationship with bamboo is as passionate as ever. So they took blood to check his kidney and liver functions, and felt for other clues.

“A lot of cancers will be firmer than the surrounding normal tissue,” Neiffer said.

They finished up with, yes, acupuncture to stimulate growth of muscle mass.

“I used to think it was all a big bunch of hooey,” Neiffer said. Not anymore, he said he’s seen it work.

In the end, Tian Tian passed his exam with flying black and white colors.

“Is your health care this good?” CBS News asked.

“No, no, and he has no copay,” Neiffer said with a laugh.

If only all humans had health care this good.

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CBS News

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