Philadelphia Zoo Introduces Endangered Baby Gorilla After Doctors & Vets Team Up For Emergency Delivery

By Travis Greenwood

It's a boy!

That's the exciting news from the Philadelphia Zoo, where a team of handpicked professionals from the veterinary and human medical fields came together to help a 17-year-old gorilla, Kira, give birth to her first baby.

But the pregnancy was not without a bit of drama.

On June 1, staff observed that the western lowland gorilla — a species listed as critically endangered on account of habitat destruction — had entered labor but they grew anxious the next day when she still had not delivered.

According to a press release, Kira "appeared to tire and behaved as if she were feeling worse over the course of the morning." There were also, it continues, "no signs of the labor progressing."

Because gorilla labor is typically quick and only rarely does the mom "appear tired, distressed, or show symptoms of feeling poorly," the zoo mobilized a medical response that included surgeons, anesthesiologists, and ob-gyn specialists from the area's top hospitals.

After the team placed Kira under anesthesia, they determined that the baby was healthy and in position for a vaginal delivery.

1.5 hours later, a healthy 5-pound baby gorilla — as yet unnamed — was welcomed into the world.

"Because mom Kira was recovering from anesthesia, vet staff provided the newborn with initial neonatal care, holding and feeding him through the night. By the next morning, Kira was fully recovered and was quickly reunited with her new baby, and has been continuously cradling and nursing him since."

As the tension around the birth dissipated, officials at the zoo praised the team members for their extraordinary efforts.

"'Our veterinary team had an advance plan in place that had us prepared for scenarios like this – and in this case that plan, and the skill of our keeper team, enabled a safe delivery for both Kira and her baby,' says Dr. Andy Baker. 'We often take advantage of the expertise in Philadelphia to optimize health care for our animals, and working with valued partners ... we were able to intervene and save both lives. It was an anxious and dramatic day at the Zoo, but in the end a tremendously rewarding one,' said Baker."

On Twitter, the zoo welcomed its newest addition with an adorable video.

In an update posted to social media platforms on Friday, staff happily reported that both mom and son were doing great.

"Thank you all, for your well wishes for Kira & baby - both are doing fantastic & continue to be monitored by our dedicated staff."

We'll have more updates to this story as they become available.

What name would you give this baby gorilla? Share your suggestions in the comment section below!