03/14/2014 01:14 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2014

Rare Gorilla Caesarean Birth Captured On Video

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park released video of a rare gorilla caesarean birth from Wednesday, and footage of the newborn baby is mesmerizing.

Squeamish viewers don't need to worry about pressing play; the video shows 18-year-old mother Imani hooked up to some kind of anesthesia, as well as her round belly, but it doesn't show any surgery.

Instead, the footage goes straight to the tiny newborn gorilla as veterinarians clean, swaddle and measure the infant, just as they would a human baby born via caesarean. They even put a little knitted hat on her head.

Imani's labor and surgery was monitored by the San Diego Zoo Global staff, a veterinary surgeon and even human neonatal specialists from UCSD Medical Center.

This was Imani's first baby, and her difficult labor led zookeepers to determine that an emergency cesarean was needed to save the life of the infant, said zoo staff in a statement. The baby weighed 4.6 pounds at birth and is experiencing complications related to the difficult birth.

Gorilla births are usually "quick and easy" because mothers can weigh over 200 pounds, while the babies weigh just a few pounds, notes the San Diego Zoo's gorilla information page.

The yet-unnamed baby makes eight gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is a sister facility to the San Diego Zoo.



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