Philadelphia, PA -- It's a typical day for any OB/GYN to assist bringing life into our world. However, last Friday OB/GYN Rebekah McCurdy delivered a different type of baby than she was use to... a 5lb baby gorilla.
The Philadelphia Zoo welcomed the baby western lowland gorilla on Friday, June 2.
McCurdy was part of a pre-determined team of consultants who were prepared to assist the birth if there were any problems with the pregnancy or delivery. So when a zoo staff member noticed signs mother Kira had begun labor, but she still hadn't delivered the following morning, the team was called in.
"After 1.5 hours the team delivered a healthy 5 lb, 0 oz. baby boy, the process requiring many of the same tools and techniques used for human deliveries," said the Philadelphia Zoo's Director of Communications Dana Lombardo.
Following the delivery McCurdy told The Atlantic that she was used to animals since she grew up on a farm, but certainly not lowland gorillas. She also said she doesn't typically have to remove so much straw or fur from her patients.
Gorillas are closely related to humans. So much so that McCurdy could easily use her expertise despite never having delivered a non-human patient. However, the Atlantic reported that McCurdy's surgical equipment was not right for the C-section so a "muscular vet" had to bend a pair of retractors into the perfect shape.
"While there have been several successful C-section deliveries for gorillas over the past few years, the most recent case of an assisted vaginal delivery the Zoo is aware of occurred in 2000," said Lombardo.
Mother Kira was put under anesthesia for the surgery. The veterinarian staff provided the newborn with neonatal care, holding and feeding him throughout the night.
"By the next morning, Kira was fully recovered and was quickly reunited with her new baby," Lombardo said. "(She) has been continuously cradling and nursing him since."
"Though Kira is a first time mom, we're not surprised she's acting like an expert already. She was a great older sister to younger siblings and has been very attentive while our other female gorilla Honi has raised baby Amani," Lombardo said.
According to the Philadelphia Zoo, western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
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