A baby gorilla that was delivered in a rare Cesarean section in Bristol, England, is healthy after the mother's health complications forced her into an emergency birth, the Bristol zoo said in a news release.
The 11-day-old Western lowland gorilla infant was delivered after her mother, Kera, showed symptoms of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication involving high blood pressure and signs of damage to an organ system.
The doctor who delivered the infant gorilla, gynecologist and professor David Cahill at the University of Bristol, had delivered hundreds of human babies via C-section, but never a gorilla.
“Having been involved with the care of these gorillas over the years, with some trepidation and excitement, we were invited to the zoo to assess the well-being of Kera, because she was in late pregnancy and showed some signs of being unwell," Cahill said in the release.
Cahill said the "only way to treat" Kera's condition was to deliver the baby, who was showing signs of distress in his uterus.
“Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget," Cahill said. "I have since been back to visit Kera and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well.”
The birth marked the first time a gorilla was born via C-section at the Bristol Zoo, and only a handful of gorillas have ever been delivered in the procedure, according to the Bristol Zoo. The most recent case was 2014 at the San Diego Zoo, where doctors stepped in after the mother gorilla had been in labor for more than 12 hours.
Bristol Zoo veterinarian Rowena Killick called the Feb. 12 procedure a "very challenging operation" that required an emergency resuscitation of the baby gorilla.
"The baby needed some intensive care immediately after birth and it is still very early days, but we are cautiously optimistic and will be keeping a very close eye on both her and Kera,” Killick said.
The female baby gorilla weighed in at 2 pounds and 10 ounces when she was born, the Bristol Zoo said. She is responding well to "skin-on-skin" contact with her mother, who is recovering and being monitored closely by zoo staff.
The baby gorilla is not yet on display to the public, the Bristol Zoo said. She has not yet been named.