Baby Gorilla In Intensive Care After Rare C-Section Delivery At San Diego Zoo [VIDEO]

By Gabrielle Jonas on March 14, 2014 3:38 PM EDT

An infant gorilla entered the world Thursday in an unconventional way for any animal -- by C-section. Credit: Ina Saliklis, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
An infant gorilla entered the world Thursday in an unconventional way for any animal -- by C-section. Credit: Ina Saliklis, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A baby gorilla born atypically by C-section Thursday night at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is showing some complications Friday afternoon apparently related to the difficult labor. She is currently in intensive care receiving oxygen and supplemental fluids at the veterinary hospital in the zoo. Her 18-year-old mother, Imani, who had never given birth before, is recovering from surgery in her familiar gorilla bed area, according to San Diego Zoo officials.

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Thursday morning, Imani showed signs of labor and was closely observed by animal care and veterinary staff. By evening, she showed no signs of progress and was in distress and apparent pain. She was then transported to the Safari Park veterinary hospital for the emergency c-section, according to zoo officials.

The full-term baby, weighing 4.6 pounds, was delivered by a team of San Diego Zoo Global staff and outside medical staff, including a veterinary surgeon and human neonatal specialists from UCSD Medical Center. The baby gorilla received supplementary care soon after delivery, inluding oxygen via a mask, and was swaddled in a blanket. The baby emitted noises, adjusted her own oxygen mask, and sucked her fingers.

"The C-section was the right decision," Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said of the newborn gorilla. "We think the health of the fetus would have been compromised if we delayed the surgery any longer,"

This is the 17th gorilla to be born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Safari Park is home to eight gorillas, including the new baby. There are four females: Vila, Kamilah, Kokamo, and Imani; two young males: Monroe, born at the Safari Park in 2011, and Frank, born at the San Diego Zoo in 2008; and adult male Winston, the silverback leader of the troop.

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