Human medics and vets worked together to deliver a baby gorilla via an emergency caesarean at Bristol Zoo Gardens.
The female western lowland gorilla was delivered by the procedure after mother, kera, showed symptoms of potentially life-threatening pre-eclampsia. Following assessments by Bristol Zoo’s team of in-house vets, treatment was provided by David Cahill, a professor in reproductive medicine and medical education at the University of Bristol and gynaecologist at St Michael’s Hospital.
Despite having delivered hundreds of babies by caesarean, this was the first time Prof Cahill delivered a gorilla.
He said: “Along with having my own children, this is one of the biggest achievements of my life and something i will never forget.”
The baby, which is yet to be named and weighed slightly more than 1Kg (2lbs 10oz), needed help from vets before she was able to breathe independently, but is now doing well and is being hand-reared around the clock by keepers. Kera is recovering and is being monitored closely by keepers and the zoo’s veterinary team.
Bristol Zoo staff vet Rowena Killick helped with the procedure and the immediate treatment of the baby including performing emergency resuscitation.
She said: “This was very challenging operation and we are immensely grateful for the expert help. We are cautiously optimistic and will be keeping a very close eye on both her and Kera.”
Bristol Zoo thanked Prof Cahill and his St Michael’s colleague Aamna Ali for their treatment, and Nic Hayward, of Veterinary Diagnostic Imagining, for providing emergency ultrasound scanning.