Philadelphia OB-GYN Unexpectedly Needs To Deliver Baby Lowland Gorilla

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A gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo was having trouble during labor, so the caretakers called an ob-gyn to the facility. The baby came out healthy and happy.

Last Friday, Philadelphia-based gynecologist Rebekah McCurdy did something most people, even ob-gyns, never think they would do. McCurdy delivered a baby Western lowland gorilla, a subspecies of apes that is considered critically endangered, according to The Atlantic.

Kira was very pregnant, and when she went into labor at the Philadelphia Zoo (known for its strong primate department), the specialists didn't have much to worry about. Labor for a gorilla is generally quite smooth, but while most apes give birth more easily than humans, zoo workers noticed Kira unusually squatting, stretching, and looking ill. She needed to see the ob-gyn.

For the most part, gorillas' reproductive parts are the same as ours. In 2009, the zoo made a partnership with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's director and obstetrician, Stuart Weiner, in case of emergencies. But Weiner was out of town, so an also-pregnant McCurdy stepped in.

The baby was stuck, according to an ultrasound. It was facing the wrong way, even though a pelvic exam by McCurdy showed Kira to be fully dilated.

C-sections on gorillas can be iffy, and could harm the bond between a mother and her baby if it has to stay hospitalized. Keeping that in mind, McCurdy resorted to the zoo's surgical equipment to help pull out the 5-pound baby boy at 1:58 p.m. Friday.

"For the most part, I was in the moment, doing what I do every day," she told the Atlantic. "It wasn't until afterwards that it really hit me. Oh my, I believe I just delivered a gorilla."

"It was an anxious and dramatic day at the zoo, but in the end a tremendously rewarding one," Dr. Andy Baker, the zoo's chief operating officer, said in a news release, according to CNN.

The zoo will soon host a public vote to name the new and healthy baby.

Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Eric Kilby

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