Rare Emergency C-Section Performed on Gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Gorilla babyAnimal care staff tended to a 1-day-old baby female gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park after an emergency c-section procedure last night, March 12, 2014. Safari Park keeper Jennifer Minichino carefully held the new baby while a member of the veterinary team, Dr. Jack Allen, examined the newborn gorilla.

Eighteen-year-old gorilla Imani gave birth to a baby girl around 6:30 p.m. That 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 transported to the Safari Park’s Harter Veterinary Medical Center for an emergency c-section.

The full-term baby, weighing 4.6 pounds, was delivered by a team of San Diego Zoo Global staff and outside consultants, including a veterinary surgeon and human neonatal specialists from UCSD Medical Center. The baby is showing some complications believed to be related to the difficult labor, and she is currently in intensive care receiving oxygen and supplemental fluids at the veterinary medical center. Imani is recovering from surgery in the familiar surroundings of the gorilla bedroom area.

“In retrospect, 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 first baby for Imani and 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; 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.