Discovery Staff

Baby Gorilla Born After Rare Caesarean Section

By: Discovery Staff Posted:
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This yet-unnamed baby western lowland gorilla girl was born at Bristol zoo after a rare cesarean operation.
BRISTOL ZOO GARDENS


A baby western lowland gorilla is “doing well” after being born in an extremely rare C-section operation, Bristol Zoo said on Tuesday.

Officials at the U.K. zoo requested the help of gynecologist David Cahill, when the mother gorilla, Kera, showed signs of the potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia.

The 11-day-old infant, a girl, weighed only 2lbs 10oz at birth and initially needed help, including mouth-to-mouth, to breathe on her own. Currently the young, yet-unnamed gorilla is being hand-reared round the clock by a small team of gorilla keepers.
 
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“The first few days were critical for the baby, it was vital that she was kept warm and began taking small amounts of formula milk. We started ‘skin-to-skin’ contact – a process used with human newborn babies – and she responded well to this and is getting stronger and more alert each day,” said curator of mammals, Lynsey Bugg in a statement.

The mother is reported as “recovering” and is also being closely monitored.
This marks the first time a gorilla has been born by cesarean at the Bristol Zoo and is among only a handful of such births worldwide, according to a release from the University of Bristol.

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“The birth of any gorilla is a rare and exciting event; but the birth of a baby gorilla by cesarean section is even more unusual. It wasn’t a decision that we took lightly – Kera was becoming quite poorly and we needed to act fast in order to give the best possible treatment to mother and baby, and to avoid the possibility of losing the baby,” said Birstol Zoo’s senior curator of animals, John Partridge, in a press release.

Dr. Cahill, a Professor in Reproductive Medicine and Medical Education at the University of Bristol’sSchool of Clinical Sciences and gynecologist in St Michael’s Hospital, had delivered hundreds of human babies by C-section throughout his career — but this was his first baby gorilla delivery by the method.

“Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget,” Cahill said in a statement. “I have since been back to visit Kera and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well.”