Animals

Boston Zoo Welcomes Baby Gorilla Via C-Section

This was a special delivery!

A new baby boy recently joined the gorilla family at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston after a rare cesarean-section delivery.

Mother gorilla, Kiki, had her yet-to-be-named gorilla boy on Oct. 14.

At 6 pounds and 3 ounces at birth, Kiki’s new boy was on the larger size for a baby gorilla. They normally average 3-5 pounds when they’re born. But the reason a C-section was performed was not size but placenta previa, where the baby’s placenta grew over the opening to Kiki’s cervix, preventing the baby from being born vaginally.

The vet team from Zoo New England — which includes staff from the Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts — got help with the delivery from specialists with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Zoo New England

“The pair were successfully reunited the following afternoon on Oct. 15, and Kiki has been very attentive, holding the baby close,” the zoo said of Kiki and her baby in a press release. “Mother and baby have bonded well and continue to be closely monitored and cared for behind the scenes.”

Take a look at the adorable, healthy western lowland gorilla baby, now back with Kiki after she recovered from surgery, via the Franklin Park Zoo YouTube video below.

Gorilla C-sections are rare considering the fact that gorilla moms tend to have easier deliveries than human mothers. Gorilla females have wider and bigger pelvises compared to the size of their babies.

It wasn’t until 1956 that the first gorilla was born in captivity. The first to be born via C-section was Caesar, at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1977. A 2014 gorilla C-section due to labor complications happened at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. A 2016 gorilla C-section at the Bristol Zoo in England saved a mom and baby from preeclampsia-related complications. Sadly a baby gorilla born via C-section in 2019 at the same zoo died a few days after birth.

Although gorillas are born smaller than the average human at birth, they are much heavier when full-grown. An adult male western lowland gorilla can be up to 5.5 feet tall and 450 pounds. Adult females top out around 4.5 feet tall and 250 pounds.

Kiki and two of her daughters, Aziza and Kambiri, can be seen in this Franklin Park Zoo live Facebook video from September. Father Kitombe, aka Kit, who is 34, also appears.

This baby was Kiki’s fourth. At age 39, Kiki is an older mother. Western lowland gorillas have a median life expectancy of 38.3 years for females and 31.7 years for males. Under human care in zoos, gorillas can live more than 50 years, however.

All four types of gorillas are endangered, with the cross river gorilla having the smallest numbers. Breeding in captivity programs aim to raise the numbers of the species while promoting gorilla conservation and awareness.

Congrats to Kiki and the Franklin Park Zoo on its successful milestone birth!