A western lowland gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo has given birth to a healthy baby after an exceptionally difficult labor that required the application of medical techniques typically used for delivering human babies. One of the zookeepers from the Philadelphia Zoo noticed 17-year-old Gorilla Kira had gone into labor on Thursday. Typically, Gorilla labor is very quick, but by Friday, Kira’s delivery had not progressed, and she seemed generally unwell.
Due to concerns about the health of Kira as well as her baby, the zoo decided to bring in a team comprised of both veterinarians and doctors more accustomed to treating humans. The team was comprised of surgeons, an ob-gyn, and anesthesiologists from hospitals affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University. With a dynamic team in place, their work yielded incredible results.
After 1½ hours of an intense Labor, the team assisted Kira in delivered the male baby using forceps and an episiotomy. According to the zoo, there have been several successful cesarean section deliveries over the past few years, but assisted vaginal delivery for gorillas isn’t common.
After giving birth to her healthy baby, Kira was reunited with him by Saturday morning. Since then she has been seen carefully and continuously cradling and nursing her baby. This is the first birth for Kira and the third offspring for 32-year old Motuba, who is also the father of baby Amani, a female who was born at the zoo last August.
According to the WWF Western lowland gorillas, which inhabit African forests, are listed as a critically endangered species. Because they inhabit some of the densest and remote rainforests in Africa, the exact number of western lowland gorillas is not known. While populations of the rare Gorilla still exist in isolated swamps and the remote, swampy forests of the Republic of Congo, their numbers are dwindling.