Philadelphia Zoo: Gorilla gives birth to healthy baby

WASHINGTON – A western lowland gorilla has given birth to a healthy baby boy with help from veterinarians – as well as physicians, the Philadelphia Zoo said on Tuesday.

Kira, 17, one of two female gorillas at the zoo, gave birth for the first time on Friday. The newborn is the third offspring for Motuba, 32, who also fathered Amani, born last August.

Mother and baby appear healthy, but the zoo said staff will monitor both carefully in the coming months. A baby gorilla is essentially helpless and relies completely on its mother for care.

“We are very excited to welcome Kira’s new baby,” Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer said in a statement. “This important birth is an opportunity to engage the world in caring about the future of gorillas in the wild.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Western lowland gorillas in the wild as critically endangered.

The medical and veterinary team delivered the baby gorilla in 90 minutes while mom Kira was under anesthesia. (Philadelphia Zoo)

Zoo staff noticed on Thursday that Kira had gone into labor, but as of Friday morning she had not delivered. Typically, labor is quick for gorillas. Concerned about the health of both Kira and her baby, the zoo’s veterinary staff summoned a medical team that was on stand-by. The medical and veterinary professionals included an obstetrician-gynecologist, surgeons and anesthesiologists from University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

After 90 minutes, the team vaginally delivered a healthy five-pound baby boy. Although several gorillas have been successfully delivered by C-section during the past few years, the most recent case of an assisted vaginal delivery the zoo is aware of occurred in 2000.

While mom Kira was recovering from anesthesia, vet staff held and fed the newborn through the night. The next morning, Kira was reunited with her baby, and has been cuddling, carrying and nursing him ever since. Meanwhile, Dad Motuba is sticking close by to guard the family.

“It was an anxious and dramatic day at the zoo, but in the end a tremendously rewarding one,” Baker said.

The newborn lives in the zoo’s primate reserve with mom and dad as well as Honi and young Amani.

“Everybody is excited about these two future playmates,” Baker said.

The zoo plans to again consult with the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to choose a name for the baby primate.

This article is republished with permission from Talk Media News.