• Tue. Nov 22nd, 2022

Medical team called in to save baby gorilla after traumatic birth at Mogo Wildlife Park

ByMadeleine J. Pierce

Oct 31, 2022

A team of neonatal caregivers on the NSW south coast took the time to care for human patients to save the life of a baby gorilla born 10 days ago at Mogo Wildlife Park.

Broulee GP Lisa Hyde said it was the “experience of a lifetime” to help care for the baby after receiving the call for help last Sunday.

“It was excitement, disbelief and sadness that the little guy was in this situation,” she said.

“But after a few minutes we kind of kicked into high gear and went, ‘we’re going to do this like we normally do, make it work like we normally would’.”

Zoo keeper Chad Staples said the little boy and his mother are stable after surviving a traumatic first few days.

“It was very emotional. It’s such an amazing and beautiful little creature,” he said.

A medical team of local doctors used their knowledge of treating human babies to save the gorilla.(Provided: Chad Staples)

Dad steals baby after traumatic birth

The baby, who has not yet been named, was born on Friday October 21 to first mum Kipenzi.

Although the delivery went well, Kipenzi had to undergo surgery afterwards to remove the placenta.

Within eight hours of the birth, before the operation, the baby’s father, Kisane, stepped in and took the baby.

The next few hours would prove to be an ordeal for zoo staff, as it meant the baby was not fed within the critical window after birth.

“Dad then decided to get involved, which, as lovely as it sounds, isn’t really what you want so soon,” Mr Staples said.

“You want him to be interested in the baby, but not take it.”

It is extremely rare for a male gorilla to take such an interest in a baby and Mr Staples said it was unlikely he would ever understand why he did.

“Did he step in because he knew something was still wrong with Kapenzi, was he trying to help in some way? We’ll never know,” he said. .

After 2 p.m., Kisane finally left the baby alone and guards rushed to pick him up.

At the time, the newborn was suffering from septicaemic pneumonia, caused by an infection that triggers a damaging response from the body’s immune system.

Local doctors called

Doctors, vets, nurses and midwives from local hospitals and clinics sprang into action.

Caroline Stewart, Bega’s pediatrician, video called the team to help with an action plan.

Dr Hyde said baby gorillas were surprisingly similar to human children.

“Essentially we were using the same parameters as a human baby,” she said.

They were able to stabilize him and he is now recovering with his mother.

a baby gorilla lies in a bed covered with medical tubes
The baby and his mum are now on the road to recovery after receiving medical treatment.(Provided: Chad Staples)

As a mother of three teenagers, Dr Hyde said it was humbling to help another mother.

“As a mom, you identify with moms of all species, and pregnancy, childbirth, this postpartum period is really difficult. We’re not alone when we’re going through this,” she said. .

“Babies of all species look at you with those big eyes, and it makes you feel better about the world.”

Mr Staples said he was overwhelmed by the support from the South Coast community.

Like any new parent, he said he was sleep deprived, but was incredibly happy the new baby was alive.

“He has two feeds every hour, so I take naps in between,” he said.

“He blew us away with his will and his strength. He’s just a fighter.”

the face of a baby gorilla looks at the camera
The child is the first to be born in the park’s western lowland gorilla troop.(Provided: Chad Staples)

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Mr Staples said the newborn’s nasal feeding tubes and oxygen lines had been removed.

“So today, seven days after he needed treatment, we finished the meds for our little man. The nasal feeding tubes and oxygen lines have all been removed which is a huge relief,” he said.

“We are monitoring and watching closely now, of course, but we are moving in the right direction. The rest of the family is much more relaxed, routines are returning to normal and trust accounts are receiving deposits again.

“A long way to go, with plans upon plans depending on what the group shows us and tells us.

“As always in everything we do, our animals come first. Their emotional, mental and physical needs are our primary concerns, so we’ll take it one day at a time.”

Western lowland gorillas are native to Africa and live in the forests of Gabon, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo.

They have been listed as critically endangered due to disease and poaching, although their exact numbers are not known as they inhabit some of the densest and most remote rainforests in Africa.

Scientists estimate that the number of wild western lowland gorillas has declined by 60% in the past 25 years.