Endangered gorilla gives birth to smiling baby after doctors helped hard labour

Philadelphia doctors help deliver baby gorilla at Philly Zoo

Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo's Chief Operating Officer says when concerns for the Kira began to grow an unique medical staff was called in.

Gorilla labor is usually quick, and the mother doesn't show any signs of fatigue, distress or symptoms of feeling ill, the zoo explained. Kira had a hard labor that required medical techniques typically used for delivering human babies.

Officials brought a team of veterinarians and physicians to perform an emergency delivery using procedures and equipment similar to those used in the birthing of human babies, including forceps and an episiotomy. After 1 1/2 hours, the 5-pound baby boy was born.

A keeper noticed 17-year-old Kira had gone into labour on Thursday.

The surgeons, anesthesiologists and an OB-GYN were prepared to respond if anything went wrong during labor or Kira's pregnancy.

With experts now in place, it took them 90 minutes to get Kira through her labour - resulting in the birth of a handsome male baby, using forceps and an episiotomy, a procedure to enlarge the birth opening.

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Kira, a western lowland gorilla and first-time mother, gave birth to a healthy baby after a 1½-hour delivery and was fully recovered the next morning.

There have been several successful cesarean section deliveries for gorillas at the zoo, but this assisted delivery is uncommon.

The medical and veterinary team delivered the baby gorilla in 90 minutes while mom Kira was under anesthesia. The next morning, Kira was reunited with her baby, and has been cuddling, carrying and nursing him ever since.

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

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists western lowland gorillas as critically endangered in the wild. The newborn is the third offspring for Motuba, 32, who also fathered Amani, born last August.

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