David Cahill is a gynecologist and a professor of reproductive medicine, but one thing is for sure, he never expected to deliver a baby gorilla. Humans and gorilla are very much alike in many ways. Cahill had never been ask to deliver a gorilla before and it was delivered by caesarean at the Bristol Zoo in the United Kingdom. It is very rare for gorilla to not deliver its newborn through natural birth.
"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. Following our assessment, we considered that Kera might have a condition that humans get (pre-eclampsia) and that the only way to treat it was by delivery. We also thought that the baby in her uterus was showing signs of being very unwell and in need of delivery. My colleague from St Michael's hospital, Dr Aamna Ali, and I prepared for this extraordinary caesarean section, and delivered a little girl gorilla." said Professor Cahill.
Bristol Zoo welcome the baby infant on February 12th, 2016. It is the first time for a gorilla to be born by caesarean at the zoo. The baby is still kept away from public.
"Along with having my own children, this is probably one of the biggest achievements of my life and something I will certainly never forget," says Professor Cahill. “I have since been back to visit the mother, Kera, and the baby gorilla, it was wonderful to see them both doing so well."
The western lowland infant gorilla had a hard time breathing after its birth and needed aid in breathing independently. However, the infant has since become stronger and being hand-reared by the staff in Bristol Zoo. The female infant was 2 pounds 10 ounces. Her mother, Kera is reported to have a speedy recovery.
"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, a senior curator. "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."
Western lowland gorillas are endangered primates from Cameroon, west Central Africa. A dominant male gorilla's chest-drumming can be heard from at least a mile away. Back in October 2015, Bristol Zoo also welcomed a seven-year-old gorilla named, Touni, from La Velle des Singes Zoo.
“This was a very challenging operation and we are immensely grateful for the expert help we received which meant we were able to give care at the very highest level. 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.” said staff vet, Rowena Killick.
Bristol Zoo is thankful to Professor Cahill and everyone who were involved in the treatment and recovery of Kera and its infant.