An endangered gorilla has been born at the Philadelphia Zoo following an emergency delivery that required the help of both veterinarians and human doctors.
Kira, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla who was pregnant for the first time, began showing signs that she was in labor on Thursday, the zoo said in a statement announcing the birth. However, concern for the animal’s well-being grew when the baby had still not been delivered the following day.
“She appeared to tire and behaved as if she were feeling worse over the course of the morning and there were no signs of the labor progressing,” said the zoo. “Typically, gorilla labor is quick and the mother does not appear tired, distressed, or show symptoms of feeling poorly.”
A pre-determined team of medical staff — including an ob-gyn, surgeons, veterinarians and anesthesiologists — gathered to assist in the birth. They determined that Kira, placed under anesthesia, was fully dilated and that the baby was in position for a vaginal delivery. (There have also been successful C-section deliveries for gorillas in recent years, the zoo said.)
After one and a half hours, the team delivered a healthy 5-lb. baby boy.
Veterinary staff cared for the newborn while Kira recovered from anesthesia. The mother and baby were reunited the following morning, and Kira was taken over mommy duty – cradling and nursing her son.
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“Though Kira is a first time mom, we’re not surprised she’s acting like an expert already. She was a great older sister to younger siblings and has been very attentive while our other female gorilla Honi has raised baby Amani,” said Dr. Andy Baker. “Everybody is excited about these two future playmates.”
The newborn resides at the PECO Primate Reserve with mom Kira, dad Motuba as well as Honi and her baby Amani.