A female baby Western lowland gorilla, currently unnamed, was born at Bristol Zoo on Friday 12 February 2016, following a rare caesarean and weighing in at just 2lbs 10oz.
This is the first time a baby gorilla has been born by C-section at the zoo and is one of only a handful of instances of it happening worldwide.
The mum, Kera, started showing signs of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia, which required the baby gorilla to be delivered urgently.
Senior curator of animals, John Partridge, explained: ‘The birth of a baby gorilla by caesarean section is 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.’
Professor David Cahill delivered the gorilla, and despite having delivered hundreds of human babies by caesarean in his career, this was the first time he’d delivered a baby gorilla by this procedure.
He said: ‘Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget. I have since been back to visit Kera and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well.’
The baby needed intensive care immediately after birth, with round-the-clock care, but staff are ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the baby’s progress, saying that she has started taking small amounts of formula milk and is responding well to ‘skin-to-skin’ contact with the mum.
Staff at Bristol Zoo have commented that mum, Kera, is also doing better now, and is being closely monitored by its experienced gorilla keepers.
The gorilla house is currently open at Bristol Zoo as normal, but the baby gorilla is not on show to the public.
For more information see Bristol Zoo or call 0117 974 7399.
Tuesday 23 February 2016
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