BEYOND THE BANKS: A second chance at motherhood for western lowland gorilla

BEYOND THE BANKS: A second chance at motherhood for western lowland gorilla

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - We are expecting another baby announcement from Riverbanks Zoo this fall and it’s a name you’ve heard in our Beyond the Banks series before.

It was late spring of 2017, as staff, veterinarians and keepers anxiously awaited the arrival of Riverbanks Zoo’s first baby Western Lowland Gorilla to ever be born at Riverbanks Zoo. We covered the pregnancy exclusively. The Midlands waited in anticipation.

But, that eager anticipation quickly turned to a somber period of mourning when Macy delivered her baby in a breech position and it died during birth.

“You know, Macy really cared for that baby,” said senior keeper, Emily Guertin. “And she did have the baby for a few days and she took care of it exactly like she should do.”

But, within this loss – there was a lesson and a second chance. Macy is now expecting again, just months after her half sister Kazi delivered her baby successfully at Gorilla Base Camp.

“She’s been very nurturing to Kazi with the newborn,” Guertin said. “[She’s] being patient, sits by the baby and watches, eventually she will play a babysitting role.”

But before she can babysit, she will prepare for her own delivery. WIS got an exclusive look at one of Macy’s most recent ultrasounds and checkups.

“Macy has gained less weight that the first time,” said Riverbanks’ Director of Animal Health, Martha Weber. “Which I don’t know if it’s significant or not, but I’d rather she didn’t put on a whole lot of extra weight while she’s pregnant.”

Weber said due to the dedication of the staff in letting Macy mourn her first birth on her timeline, she’s been a great patient this time around.

“We have a whole team of specialists who are lined up to help us out, so we have some OBGYN’s who have been evaluating the ultrasounds for us,” Weber said. “They are available if we need to do a caesarian section as an emergency… they could help us out with that.”

Inside the backup of Gorilla Base Camp, keepers and vets kneel on the floor as they all do their part in getting a clean ultrasound. As they waited to see how Macy’s baby was positioned, the sense of tense excitement was palpable.

But then – there was a long awaited sigh of relief, as Weber showed the others how the baby’s head was positioned downwards. Unlike Macy’s first breech birth – which meant the baby’s legs came first – this was an incredibly positive sign to Weber and the entire staff.

“We’re excited that it looks like this time everything is in place,” Weber said.

It’s exciting not only for Macy, but for the entire family troop, including Dad – Cenzoo. He became an “old man” this past spring, when he fathered Kazi’s infant boy.

“They work really well as a family unit,” Guertin said. “And I feel very excited for them to experience this next chapter.”

There’s a pretty wide due date expectancy. Macy could give birth anytime between now and the November.

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