A Louisville Zoo gorilla has died from complications related to giving birth via emegency cesarean section to a female baby.
The infant has survived but was reported to be in critical condition.
The mother, 27-year-old Mia Moja, gave birth at 12:35 p.m. Monday but was pronounced dead shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 15.
Zoo officials said she died from complications related to the delivery but affirmed that a full postmortem examination will be performed to try to pinpoint the exact cause of death.
The baby gorilla, although critical, was said to be in stable condition and is being monitored by zoo staff.
The baby weighed 3 pounds and 9 ounces at birth and was 14 inches long – close to the average size of a full-term gorilla baby.
Zoo officials and medical consultants will confer with experts in gorilla infant management 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,” said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “Our main focus now is caring for” the baby.
She was monitored overnight and bottle-fed a special formula for premature babies every two hours by the staff.
Two physicians, James W. Forrester and Robert C. Zoller of Partners in Women’s Health, performed the cesarean section assisted by Louisville Zoo veterinarians Drs. Zoli Gyimesi and Julie Ter Beest.
The baby arrived about three weeks early, zoo officials estimated.
Gyimesi said 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.”
This gorilla birth was part of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its Gorilla Species Survival Plan.