BOSTON, Massachusetts — The first-ever male gorilla was born at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston last week. A team of veterinarians and physicians successfully delivered the baby gorilla via Cesarean section on Oct. 14 at the zoo.
The zoo says their veterinary team became concerned in the days leading up to the delivery when Kiki, a 39-year-old western lowland gorilla, experienced significant bleeding. The Zoo New England veterinary team, along with specialists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, performed an ultrasound on Kiki and quickly confirmed that she had placenta previa, which blocks the path for delivery.
The Animal Care and veterinary teams transported Kiki to the Zoo Hospital on grounds at Franklin Park Zoo and prepped her for surgery, which once underway went quickly and smoothly, the zoo said.
At 6:35 p.m., the 6 pound, 3 ounce gorilla infant was delivered. The zoo says for baby gorillas, that’s considered big, since typically gorilla infants weigh around 3-5 pounds.
“For the health of mom and baby, it was imperative to quickly diagnose Kiki’s condition and perform a C-section before she went into labor on her own. We were fortunate to quickly mobilize an amazing team with our colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine,” Dr. Eric Baitchman, Zoo New England Vice President of Animal Health and Conservation, said in a release. “This was truly a team effort, and we are relieved and happy that the surgery went smoothly and that mom and baby are both safe and healthy.”
Following the delivery, Kiki recovered from surgery while the baby was cared for by zoo staff where Kiki was close enough to see and hear the baby. The zoo says the baby and Kiki were successfully reunited the following afternoon on October 15, and Kiki has been very attentive, holding the baby close. The zoo says Kiki and the baby have bonded well and continue to be closely monitored and cared for behind the scenes.
The baby does not yet have a name, and the zoo says more information about the name will be forthcoming.
Kiki has previously given birth to four female gorillas – her youngest two reside at Franklin Park Zoo, while her oldest two reside at other Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoos per breeding recommendations.
Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered in the wild. Western gorillas, found in the countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Central African Republic, are divided into the Cross River and western lowland subspecies. Both are considered critically endangered. Threats to gorillas vary geographically and western gorillas are primarily threatened by disease and the bushmeat trade.
Zoo New England, which manages Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, has been a longtime supporter of gorilla conservation and is currently supporting a project to protect Cross-river gorillas in the Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary in Nigeria.