A baby gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo is finally back in her mother’s arms after suffering with pneumonia. The baby, not named yet, was born by emergency C-section on March 12 to a grateful mother who is still recovering from the C-section, but happy to see her baby.
The baby’s mom, 18-year-old Imani, is back with her troop but being watched closely as she recovers from her C-section. Imani was in labor for an unusually long 12 hours, which made the decision to go with a C-section necessary. “With gorillas, that’s very unusual,” zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons told ABCNews. “Four hours is long for them.”
The infant was nursed back to health by a team of humans at the San Diego Zoo, and was being treated with fluids, lots of human attention, and plenty of bottle-feeding.
Zoo officials say the infant female was physically introduced to her mother for the first time Monday morning. Since then Imani has been constantly cradling and carrying her baby.
The baby cuddled with Imani before latching on for a feed, a switch from the bottles and infant formula she had gotten used to those first 13 days of her life by her human caregivers.
“Initially Imani was just carrying the baby, she never set the baby down,” said Andrew Stallard, animal care supervisor at the zoo’s Safari Park. “And about three hours in, she began nursing the baby.”
The baby fell asleep about five minutes into the feed, according to Stallard, just like a 13-day-old human infant might. Zoo staff will monitor the baby to make sure that the newborn receives enough nutrition.
Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the park, said last week the baby girl gorilla is developing quickly and normally after undergoing surgery for a collapsed lung.
The gorilla mom and baby will stay under 24-hour surveillance to make sure the “nursing trend” continues, Stallard said.
In her short life, the baby has survived a collapsed lung and pneumonia, but seems to be doing well now. Hopefully the love of her mom will encourage her strong growth and health for the long term.
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