A “Wild” Delivery at the Philadelphia Zoo

The Atlantic told the story of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals attending obstetrician and maternal-fetal medicine fellow who delivered a smiling baby gorilla in an operating room near the Philadelphia Zoo on Friday, June 2, 2017. As Atlantic staff writer Ed Yong reports, Rebekah McCurdy, MD, received an urgent phone call from the Philadelphia Zoo. Keeper Staff recognized the signs that Kira, a 260-pound, western lowland gorilla had begun labor, but was not progressing and showed symptoms of feeling poorly. After the normal birthing time frame for gorillas had passed, zookeepers knew they needed to contact a pre-determined team of consultants who were prepared to assist if there were any problems with the pregnancy or delivery. The team of professionals, from the veterinary and human medical field, included an ob-gyn, surgeons, anesthesiologists and others.

team of doctors and veteranarians delivering gorilla baby

Photo courtesy of The Philadelphia Zoo

Dr. McCurdy was hesitant to perform a C-section because of the required recovery period associated with the procedure. She explained if this patient had been a human she would “pull the baby out.” That’s exactly what she did. Dr. McCurdy made a small incision in the mother’s perineum to make more room for the baby gorilla and shortly after she pulled out a five-pound male. Kira recovered for a night before meeting her new baby the next morning.

“For the most part, I was in the moment, doing what I do every day. It wasn’t until afterwards that it really hit me. Oh my, I believe I just delivered a gorilla,” Dr. McCurdy said in her interview with The Atlantic.

The news of the birth of a baby gorilla at The Philadelphia Zoo quickly garnered national attention—an article by the Associated Press story appeared in more than 450 outlets and Dr. McCurdy was interviewed by NPR and the BBC.

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