Philadelphia doctors help deliver baby gorilla at Philly Zoo

The newest member of the Philadelphia Zoo's family of western lowland gorillas came into the world Friday, but not without some tense moments and the assistance of medical techniques typically reserved for humans, according to a press release from the Philadelphia Zoo. Kira, the baby's 17-year-old mother went into labor Thursday, but zoo officials became concerned when the usually quick labor process stretched into Friday. When the mother's condition appeared to worsen, the zoo brought in a team of local medical experts to help deliver the baby. "The team of professionals, from the veterinary and human medical field, included an ob-gyn, surgeons, anesthesiologists and others, from leading area institutions such as University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital," according to the zoo's press release. With the medical team using many of the practices and processes used in human deliveries, Kira gave birth to a healthy 5 lb. baby boy after 1.5 hours of labor, the zoo said. Mother and baby are doing fine, according to the zoo, and are joining the rest of their family and friends in the Philadelphia Zoo's Primate Reserve. Zoo officials say this is the first assisted vaginal birth at their facility in 17 years.

PHILADELPHIA — Some Philadelphia doctors delivered a different kind of baby than usual Friday.

A team of veterinary and human medical specialists was called in to deliver a gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo after the mother, 17-year-old Kira, appeared to struggle during labor.

Usually, gorilla births are quick and the mother does not appear distressed. With Kira, however, staff at the zoo noticed she was growing tired after being in labor and were concerned for her health.

The surgeons, anesthesiologists and an OB-GYN were prepared to respond if anything went wrong during labor or Kira’s pregnancy. While gorilla cesarean sections aren’t out of the ordinary, this was the first assisted vaginal delivery for a gorilla since 2000, according to the Philadelphia Zoo. The birth required tools similar to those used during human deliveries.

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. This is the third offspring for 32-year-old father Motuba. The newborn male joins another baby gorilla from the zoo, also fathered by Motuba.

“It was an anxious and dramatic day at the zoo, but in the end a tremendously rewarding one,” Dr. Andy Baker, Philadelphia Zoo’s chief operating officer, said in a news release.

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