In a rare turn of events, a baby gorilla was born in San Diego Zoo Safari Park last week by emergency caesarian section. On Wednesday 12th March 18 year old mother Imani went into labor, but was taken to the park's hospital for the emergency procedure when she showed no signs of progression in the birth.
According to the Safari Park's Flickr page, the baby girl was delivered full-term, weighing a meager 4.6 pounds. She is the first baby for Imani, and the 17th baby gorilla born at the park, bringing up their current total to 8 gorillas; 5 females and 3 males. The Associate Director of Veterinary Services at the Safari Park, Nadine Lamberski, said "In retrospect the c-section was the right decision. We think the health of the fetus would have been compromised if we delayed surgery any longer." Although c-sections are not uncommon within humans, is is a rare procedure to take place in other animals.
Unfortunately, the delivery was not without complications. After showing respiratory distress due to the complicated labour, the baby was taken into intensive care to receive oxygen and fluids. But after it became evident by X-ray that the baby had a collapsed lung, the 2-day old gorilla underwent a procedure to fix it. The term of veterinarians and specialists removed a mucous plug in her right lung, which allowed them to successfully re-inflate it. After waking up from the procedure the breathing tube was removed, and the baby gorilla was placed on a device to give continued respiratory support. The baby is said to be recovering, but is being monitored 24/7 and given oxygen and fluids as required. According to Dawn Reeves, MD, neonatologist at UC San Diego Health System, the baby acts differently to most babies that she takes care of, adding "she can grab you with both her hands and feet, which can be a little troublesome when trying to do procedures or exams. Otherwise she behaves very well."
Mother Imani is back in her habitat and is also said to be doing well.
Check out this YouTube video of the gorgeous little critter released by the Safari Park, doing cute baby things like yawning and sucking its hand.