Every now and then, we hear about unlikely heroes on the Internet. Some have pulled kittens out of pipes. Others have dove into canals to save dogs. But OB-gyn Rebekah McCurdy has gone above and beyond, delivering a baby gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo via C-section.
[Philadelphia Zoo] wanted someone on standby in case any of the [primate] pregnancies became complicated.
For a while, these precautions proved unnecessary… But when Kira, the second female gorilla, went into labor last Thursday, things took a different turn.
While obstetric gynecologists are trained to deliver infants, non-human offspring require a different kind of attention.
Gorillas are clearly very different from humans. Their pelvis is both wider than ours, and larger relative to the baby. The babies are also proportionally smaller.
Still, gorillas are among our closest relatives, and their reproductive parts are similar enough to ours that McCurdy could easily apply all of her experience despite never having dealt with a non-human patient before.
McCurdy is unimaginably proud of her newest achievement.
To have delivered a western lowland gorilla—a critically endangered ape with fewer than 100,000 individuals left in the wild—was an “incredible privilege,” [says McCurdy].
“It wasn’t until afterwards that it really hit me. Oh my, I believe I just delivered a gorilla.”
McCurdy herself was also 28 weeks pregnant during the surgery, making her a true supermom.