In order to gain an understanding of the frequency of veterinary intervention during the periparturient period of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in captivity between 1996 and 2016, a survey was sent to institutions associated with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Gorilla Species Survival Plan®. A total of 193 births were reported during the survey period, from 51/53 institutions. There were six incidences of prolonged labor (longer than 6 hr; 3%), six cases of cesarean section (3%), and three incidences of veterinary intervention that did not involve a cesarean section (2%). Fifty-one gorilla neonates (26%) were assist-reared (required intervention lasting longer than 24 hr). Out of 51 attempts to reintroduce neonates to dams or surrogates, 42 were accepted (82%), while nine attempts (18%) were deemed failures. The age group with the highest rate of maternal or surrogate acceptance after reintroduction was between 6 and 12 mo of age. Compared to data from a 1981 survey, the percentage of assist-reared gorillas decreased from 64% to 26%. Results show that veterinary intervention in the periparturient period is low, and there is a high rate of acceptance of neonates by either the dam or a surrogate after intervention. Advances in captive husbandry and veterinary knowledge have led to a reduced risk of veterinary intervention during gorilla parturition; however, the long-term effects on behavioral development of the neonate should be considered before removal of the infant from the dam for any period of time.
Gorilla gorilla gorilla