Baby gorilla born at San Diego Zoo's Safari Park remains in critical condition

Gorilla born by cesarean section

SAN DIEGO - The baby gorilla born at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park remained under 24-hour care Monday as she battles pneumonia.

The baby, born Wednesday by cesarean section, is being treated by the park's veterinary staff and neonatal specialists from UC San Diego Health. The C-section delivery was a first for the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

On Friday, underwent surgery to inflate one lung that collapsed.

"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."

"I never anticipated I would have to care for a gorilla, but all the work is identical to what I'm doing with this 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.

"She's a lot stronger when she grabs your hand," Reeves added. "It's very difficult to release her grip because she's used to that. That's her instinct to grab her mom and she grabs at you with her hands and feet."

The mother, 18-year-old Imani, is recovering from the birth of her first offspring, according to park officials.

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 from Temecula with her two young sons.

Indiana visitors Jenna and Marcia Popp told 10News that a volunteer at the gorilla exhibit pointed out the new mom.

"She was just relaxing in some straw," said Marcia Popp. "Everyone was leaving her alone and giving her [her] space."

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

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