A rare baby gorilla which was the first in the UK to be born by emergency caesarean has doubled in weight and GIGGLED for the first time.
The miracle girl, a critically-endangered Western lowland gorilla, was delivered in a remarkable operation by a top gynaecologist last month.
Zookeepers became concerned when tests revealed the baby was becoming unresponsive and doctors were drafted in from a local NHS maternity hospital.
Medics performed a c-section on the 11-year-old mother, Kera and after a dramatic battle to save the infant she was born on February 12 weighing 2lbs 10oz.
The arrival at Bristol Zoo is understood to be the first successful c-section delivery of a gorilla in the UK – and one of fewer than ten in the world.
Now aged six weeks, the adorable baby – who has yet to be named – weighs 4lbs 9oz and is getting stronger by the day.
She even let out of a laugh for the first time and has developed a bit of an attitude – grunting and coughing when milk doesn’t come quickly enough.
The human-like mammal is receiving 24-hour care which includes being taken home by selected staff at night on a round-the-clock rota to look after her.
Curator of mammals Lynsey Bugg said: “Her arm muscles are becoming more defined, her grip is stronger and she is increasingly alert and attentive.
“She might be small but she is already showing an assertive side to her personality and grunts and coughs at us if we don’t give her her milk quickly enough.”
She added that caring for the little one was similar to taking care of a newborn child which develop in a similar way to gorillas, but generally reach milestones later.
She is being hand-reared as her mother was diagnosed with life-threatening pre-eclampsia before the birth and is unwell.
In an attempt to stop the baby becoming too accustomed to humans she is spending every day inside the gorilla house.
Lynsey added: “From the very start we have introduced the baby to Kera and the other gorillas in the group.
“Kera has shown little interest, probably because she has been so poorly, so we had no choice but to continue hand-rearing the baby.
“However, the other female gorillas have been very interested in the baby and have displayed good, protective behaviours towards her, which is very encouraging.”
Lynsey added: “Kera has been very poorly with anaemia and a suspected chest infection, on top of recovering from the pre-eclampsia.
“There have been a few times when we have not been sure whether she would pull through, it’s been a very delicate recovery for her and she is still not 100 per cent better.”
Keepers have invited the public to vote on their favourite of three options for a name.
The first is Maiombe, a region in Africa covering gorillas‘ native countries, the second is Afia, meaning ‘Friday-born child’ in Ghanian, and the third is Pianga, from Pianga-Makeshi, a place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To vote for your favourite, visit: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/