When Imani the western lowland gorilla was born in 1995, her life hung in the balance. She not only survived her own birth, but after an emergency cesarean, this brave primate mother had a new baby of her own.
Imani was very ill as a baby, and vets at the San Diego Zoo had to fight to keep her alive.
According to San Diego Zoo’s website, the new born’s temperature and blood sugar level were too low, and her weight was half of what was expected from a newborn gorilla. The baby suffered from various other complications and needed intensive care so that she had a chance to live.
When she was well enough to go back to her mother, Kimba Kumba, it turned out the big momma had nothing to do with her—the little Imani was forsaken.
We love watching Imani and her baby grow. Caption this moment! Thanks for the adorable pic Angie Bell.
Fortunately, Imani was introduced to Alvila, a gorilla that had previously given birth to three babies but was unable to raise them.
At first, Alvila was not interested in Imani, but she had a change of heart and accepted the little one as her own. From then on, it was plain sailing. That was over two decades ago, and Imani had grown into a fine gorilla.
In 2014, Imani was about to have her own baby, but vets realized something was wrong and opted for an emergency operation to deliver her baby at the Harter Veterinary Hospital.
According to San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, Imani was put under anesthesia, and a team of specialists that helped care for human newborns assisted in the operation.
They first shaved Imani’s belly, and during the surgery, a “little black leg popped out.”
Imani came through the operation well, but the vets had a fight on their hands to save her baby.
18-year-old gorilla, Imani, gave birth to a baby girl last night by emergency c-section. The baby is showing…
The zoo staff took full care of Imani’s baby, which was on oxygen—her newborn was struggling to survive.
The baby suffered from a collapsed lung and pneumonia. Eventually, after a period of eight long days, the infant was able to breathe and drink her own bottles of infant formula.
Almost two weeks later, it was time for the baby to go back to Imani.
However, there were some tense moments, as the staff were apprehensive that Imani might reject her baby she hadn’t seen yet.
Wonderful news! Imani's baby girl completed her treatment for pneumonia and is showing great improvement. She's even bottle-feeding now. More pics & info: http://ow.ly/uLKwP
The staff showed Imani her baby, whom they named Joanne, initially through the bars. Then the following day, they placed her onto the straw of an enclosure and allowed the mamma gorilla in as well.
Surprisingly, it was a touching moment for everyone. The new mother first sniffed the little Joanne—and as if she realized it was her own baby, without hesitation she picked her up and hugged her.
We vote for Imani for mother of the year. After giving birth by c-section and not being with her baby girl for eleven…
Seeing this warm sight unfold before their very eyes, the keepers at the zoo were in relief.
Imani then began to feed her, ensuring the little one would be able to grow strong and survive.
Check out the smile on Frank's face when Imani let him hold baby Joanne. If you know our troop, this was a special moment. Meet the players: http://ow.ly/DLkPu (photo by Lisa Sarto)
On March 4, Joanne turned four and had a birthday celebration.
We are sure to follow the little Joanne’s progress with interest over the years as she matures. Thanks to the zoo staff who made this miracle possible, both mom and baby are doing amazingly well!
Watch the video below: