Lives Saved: Tiny Baby Gorilla Born by Rare Caesarean

Image: Gorilla Feeding Caesarean
A baby female Western lowland gorilla nurses from a bottle at the Bristol Zoo in England on Feb. 18. Reuters

A baby gorilla has been delivered by a rare caesarean section at a British zoo in an operation performed by a hospital gynecologist, the zoo said on Tuesday.

Vets at Bristol zoo in western England called in expert medical help after the mother Kera showed signs of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia.

Professor David Cahill, a gynecologist at a nearby hospital who has delivered hundreds of babies by caesarean but never a gorilla, was drafted in to perform the operation, one of just a handful ever carried out worldwide.

Image: Gorilla Hanging Caesarean
A caesarean section is carried out on Kera, a Western lowland gorilla, from the Bristol Zoo, in England on Feb. 12. Bristol Zoo via Reuters

"Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget," he said in a statement. "I have since been back to visit Kera and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well."

The baby girl gorilla weighed just over a kilogram (2 lbs 10oz) at birth on February 12. She initially needed help from vets to breathe independently but is now doing well after being hand-reared around the clock by keepers, the zoo said.

Image: Female gorilla born by caesarean
The female gorilla, that was delivered after the mother, Kera, a critically-endangered Western lowland gorilla, showed symptoms of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia photo made availabale on Feb. 23. Bristol Zoo via EPA

"The birth of any gorilla is a rare and exciting event; but the birth of a baby gorilla by caesarean section is even more unusual," said John Partridge, the zoo's senior curator of animals.

"It wasn't a decision that we took lightly - Kera was becoming quite poorly and we needed to act fast in order to give the best possible treatment to mother and baby, and to avoid the possibility of losing the baby."

Adorable Baby Gorilla Born by Emergency Cesarean Section 0:39