Baby gorilla delivered by cesarean section remains in critical condition with pneumonia

SAN DIEGO - A baby gorilla delivered by a rare emergency cesarean section last week at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has pneumonia and is receiving round-the-clock care.

Zoo spokeswoman Christina Simmons said the female gorilla was receiving oxygen and other treatment on Tuesday. She says the gorilla sleeps a lot but is getting stronger day by day and vets are cautiously optimistic about her condition.

"We've been working with the baby all weekend and after having several days of experience treating her, it's pretty obvious that we've been dealing with pneumonia," said Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the park. "It probably occurred at about the time of birth."

The medical team includes both vets and specialists in human neonatal care.

"I never anticipated I would have to care for a gorilla, but all the work is identical to what I'm doing with a baby," said Dr. Dawn Reeves, a neonatologist from UC San Diego Health System.

Reeves was brought in over the past few days to help care for the baby gorilla, which was born weighing four pounds, six ounces.

The gorilla underwent surgery last Friday for a collapsed lung.

The mother gorilla, an 18-year-old named Imani, had never given birth. The zoo says the C-section, rare for a gorilla, was performed because she was in distress after going into labor.

Imani was in labor for 12 hours Wednesday. Unexpected complications forced the zoo's vets to make drastic decisions -- measures that would save both mother and baby's lives.

"I would have never thought … I didn't know they did all that," said Safari Park visitor Gina Jorgensen, who was visiting the park on Monday with her two young sons.

The baby is the 17th gorilla born at the Safari Park. Eight, including the newborn, currently reside at the facility.

Watch a video about her care below (mobile users:

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