Story and photos from www.louisvillezoo.org…
Louisville, Ky., – A female gorilla baby was born via emergency cesarean section to 27 year-old gorilla Mia Moja at 12:35 p.m. on Monday, March 14. Sadly, Mia Moja passed away a little after 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15 from complications. A full post mortem examination will be performed on Mia to determine the cause of death.
ObGyn’s James W. Forrester, M.D. and Robert C. Zoller, M.D. of Partners in Women’s Health performed the cesarean section assisted by Louisville Zoo veterinarians Drs. Zoli Gyimesi and Julie Ter Beest. University of Louisville neonatologist Tonya Robinson M.D. provided care for the baby immediately following the birth and is a continued resource. The baby was expected but arrived approximately three weeks early based on Zoo estimations.
Senior Staff Veterinarian Gyimesi explained that “gorilla Mia was experiencing unusual bleeding. Her condition was considered life-threatening and a decision was made to examine her. A surgical team was quickly assembled and an emergency cesarean section was elected for the good of mom and baby.”
The baby gorilla is in critical condition but currently stable and continually monitored by gorilla keeper staff. She weighed 3 pounds and 9 ounces at birth and was 14 inches long, close to the average size of a full term gorilla baby. She was monitored overnight and bottle fed Similac special care formula for premature babies every two hours by the Zoo’s gorilla care staff.
This gorilla birth is part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP). Breeding plans work to improve the genetic diversity of managed animal populations. The birth will bring the total number of western lowland gorillas at the award-winning Gorilla Forest to ten.
Animal Health Center and Curatorial staff will confer in the days with experts in gorilla infant management and the Gorilla SSP to come to determine the best plan for the baby gorilla. She will continue to be bottle fed and monitored 24 hours a day.
“It has been a very tough 24 hours for us. Welcoming a new baby is always exciting, but losing Mia is heartbreaking. These life events are even more impactful and extraordinary when we are talking about endangered species,” says Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “Our main focus right now is caring for this critical but stable premature gorilla baby.”
Gorilla Mshindi is the father and his group includes two other females: 26-year-old Paki on loan from the Bronx Zoo in New York, and 32-year-old Kweli, who was born at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The baby is Mia Moja’s third and the second with Mshindi. This baby will be the third gorilla born at the Louisville Zoo since it opened the award-winning Gorilla Forest exhibit in 2002.
Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered with 100,000 estimated to be left in the remnant wild. There are about 353 residing in 51 AZA accredited institutions in North America. Due to habitat destruction primarily caused by mining, logging and agricultural expansion, their numbers continue to decline. Coltan mining in particular is impacting the gorilla population. Coltan is a black metallic mineral that is used in nearly every electronic device today including cell phones. The Louisville Zoo partners with Louisville-based Eco Cell and collects old cell phones to help reduce the need for additional mining in and around gorilla habitats. The bushmeat trade and the Ebola virus are also major threats.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).