Gorilla baby

San Diego Zoo Safari Park keeper Jennifer Minichino and veterinarian Jack Allen examine a female baby gorilla delivered by C-section Wednesday night. (Tammy Spratt / San Diego Zoo Safari Park / March 13, 2014)

SAN DIEGO -- Imani, who is 18 and had never given birth before, was in labor and in distress. The survival of the baby seemed to be in doubt.

So a team of veterinarian staff from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and (human) neonatal specialists from UC San Diego Medical Center decided to perform a Cesarean section -- a rare procedure for a gorilla.

"In retrospect, the C-section was the right decision," said Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the park.

The baby, a girl, was born full term at 4.6 pounds. She remains in the intensive care unit of the park's veterinary hospital receiving fluids and oxygen.

Imani, exhausted by the Wednesday night experience, is recovering in the gorilla "bedroom" area.

The baby was Imani's first but the 17th gorilla born at the park.


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tony.perry@latimes.com