SD Zoo giant panda recovering from surgery

China gave its approval for the surgery

SAN DIEGO - Gao Gao, one of the San Diego Zoo's giant pandas, is recovering from surgery to remove his right testicle due to the presence of a tumor.

Zoo officials say the one-hour procedure Tuesday was a success and veterinarians are hopeful Gao Gao will make a full recovery. 

"He's doing well. He's recovering from a long day," said San Diego Zoo animal care supervisor Gaylene Thomas.

They found the tumor during a pre-breeding exam. 10News wanted to know if this would have an impact on his ability to reproduce.

"We're not sure," said Thomas. "There definitely could be some impact to his breeding viability by the removal of this tumor."

That is not the only factor to consider. Gao Gao and Bai Yun are both in their 20s now.

"Twenties is really pushing it for the animals," said Thomas.

Bai Yun, who may be in menopause, was one of the oldest females to successfully have a cub. 

"She's doing well, too," said Thomas. "We're not sure what the next breeding season will bring. We'll have to see. It's possible that's she's post-reproductive as well."

She is also the only female panda outside of China to successfully raise six cubs away from her homeland.

Gao Gao and Bai Yun have together produced five cubs. Now that they are both getting older, the big question is what will become of the breeding process at the San Diego Zoo.

The pandas belong to the Chinese government and are at the zoo as part of a research project. There are only 47 pandas in zoos outside of China and 1,000 left in the world.

10News asked if the new cubs would be placed into the breeding program at the zoo though right now most are sent back when they are about 3 years old.

"They usually are placed into a breeding program back in China," said Thomas.

For now, they will wait to see if Gao Gao will be able to sire more cubs and to see if Bai Yun will also be ready another time.

"It could be she comes into estrus next year, but we'll just have to monitor and see. Just be happy of the cubs we've been able to have here this far," said Thomas.

The Ministry of Forestry for the People's Republic of China was informed about Gao Gao's health and gave approval for the surgery. All of the zoo's pandas are on loan from China.

Click here to see the zoo's live Panda Cam.

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