Doctors Watching Over Baby Gorilla Born via C-section at San Diego Zoo

Doctors Watching Over Baby Gorilla Born via C-section at San Diego Zoo
Baby gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

updated 03/16/2014 AT 05:30 PM EDT

originally published 03/16/2014 AT 03:30 PM EDT

Veterinarians at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are keeping a close watch over a baby gorilla delivered by C-section last week.

The 4.6-lb. female underwent a procedure on Friday to fix a collapsed lung that seems to have happened during delivery, the Associated Press reports.

An emergency C-section was performed on the first-time mom, Imani, 18, because she was in distress after going into labor on Wednesday. The procedure is rarely performed on gorillas.

The baby gorilla was placed in intensive care after having breathing problems, and the medical team, which includes two vets and two doctors who usually work on humans (a neonatal specialist and an anesthesiologist), determined that she had a collapsed lung.

Neonatologist Dawn Reeves says one of the ways the tiny gorilla is different from human babies is that she can grab with both her hands and her feet. "It's very difficult to release her grip because that's her instinct: to grab her mom," she told the Los Angeles Times.

Vets are cautiously optimistic that the baby will survive. "She's extremely strong. She can grasp, she kicks, she's vocal – has a very strong suckle reflex," Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the park, told CBS News. "She looks around. She can hold her own head up, which is pretty amazing."

The zoo says that the baby is still in "guarded condition" and that veterinarians made a blue cap for her from bandage material to help regulate body temperature.

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