The first male gorilla ever born at Franklin Park Zoo was delivered by cesarean section last week, zoo officials said in a release Tuesday.
The procedure was necessary after Kiki, the baby’s 39-year-old lowland gorilla mother, experienced significant bleeding in the days leading up to the birth. The surgery went quickly and smoothly, and the 6-pound, 3-ounce infant gorilla was delivered on Oct. 14.
“He’s a big baby, as gorilla infants typically weigh 3-5 pounds,” the statement said.
It was important to diagnose Kiki’s condition and perform the delivery before she went into labor on her own, zoo officials said in the 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,” Eric Baitchman, the Zoo New England vice president of animal health and conservation, said in the release.
Her pregnancy was the result of a recommended breeding by the Gorilla Species Survival Plan with her mate Kitombe, affectionately known as Kit, the release said.
Western lowland gorillas, found in the countries of Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Angola, and Central African Republic, are considered critically endangered in the wild. They are primarily threatened by disease and bushmeat trade.
Kiki previously gave birth to four female gorillas, with her youngest two living at Franklin Park Zoo. Her oldest two reside at other accredited zoos on the basis of breeding recommendations.
The baby gorilla will remain at Franklin Park Zoo with his mother at this time, but it is possible that he could be moved to another institution to start his own family once he gets close to reaching sexual maturity, John Linehan, President and CEO of Zoo New England, said in an email.
Kiki was reunited with her baby the day after her delivery, and “has been very attentive, holding the baby close,” the release said.
The pair is bonding behind the scenes while the zoo prepares for them to make their exhibit debut.
“When mom, Kiki, has further recovered from her C-section and seems/shows signs that she’s ready to reunite with rest of the gorilla troop; we will announce when she and the baby make their exhibit debut,” Linehan said in an email.