Baby gorilla born after emergency caesarean

Bristol Zoo vets perform a caesarean on a Western lowland gorilla to prevent a possible life-threatening condition.

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A baby Western lowland gorilla has been born at Bristol Zoo Gardens after an emergency caesarean procedure.

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It is the first time a gorilla has been born by caesarean at Bristol Zoo, and one of only a handful of instances of it occurring worldwide.

The 11-day-old infant, a girl, was delivered after her mother, Kera, showed symptoms of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia, a condition humans get.

Senior curator of animals, John Partridge says,“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. 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.”

The baby needed help from vets before she was able to breathe independently, but is now doing well, being hand-reared round the clock by a small team of experienced gorilla keepers.

Kera is recovering and is being monitored closely by keepers and the Zoo’s in-house veterinary team.

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Kera’s pregnancy scan at Bristol Zoo Gardens © Nicolette Hayward

After being assessed by Bristol Zoo’s team of in-house vets, expert treatment was provided by Professor David Cahill, a professor in reproductive medicine and medical education at Bristol University and gynaecologist in St Michael’s Hospital.

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

The girl is yet to be named and was born weighing just over a kilo (2lbs 10oz).

The gorilla house at Bristol Zoo Gardens is open as normal but the baby gorilla is not on show to the public.

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