The baby girl, born to 18-year-old first time mother Imani, was born late Wednesday via Caesarian section, a rare procedure for a gorilla birth, and was taken to the intensive care unit of the zoo's veterinary hospital, where veterinarians said she had aspirated fluids, U-T San Diego reported.
"You always want to have the baby normally and naturally, and then the mother can raise the baby herself," zoo veterinarian Jim Oosterhuis said. "But if we didn't do the C-section, the baby probably would have died."
Officials said the newborn was found to be suffering from distressed breathing and a rapid heartbeat Friday as a result of a collapsed lung. Veterinarians said they removed a mucous plug found to be blocking the lung.
"Right after we did it, [the lung] completely inflated, it was a good thing for us to see," Oosterhuis said.
The veterinarian said zoo specialists, as well as human neonatal specialists from the University of California San Diego Medical Center, decided to perform the C-section when Imani entered the 12th hour of labor with little progress. He said gorilla births usually last only a couple of hours.
The zoo said the infant will be bottle fed and reintroduced to her mother when she is physically able.
"[Imani] has very good maternal instincts and will adopt it when we introduce it," Oosterhuis said.
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