CBSN

Critically endangered gorilla gives birth, then picks her own baby name

When Kira, a lowland gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo, went into labor on June 1st, doctors were worried. The critically endangered gorilla had been in labor for a full 24 hours, and still, no baby. That's when a pre-determined team of human and veterinary doctors jumped into action.

The surgeons, anesthesiologists and OB-GYNs carefully performed an emergency delivery and, at the end of it all, Kira had a healthy baby boy. That's a huge victory for the once populous western gorilla species, which due to illegal poaching and Ebola outbreaks in western and central Africa, has seen its numbers decline by more than 60 percent over the last 20 to 25 years.

"Without the use of modern medicine and human intervention, then we probably would have lost both Kira and her baby," gorilla keeper Kristen Farley-Rambo told CBS Philly after forceps were used to extract the newborn gorilla. "So, it really is a miracle that he's here with us today."

To celebrate the birth, the Philadelphia Zoo posted on Facebook Live a naming ceremony of sorts from PECO Primate Reserve. The special twist? Kira would be selecting her own baby's name.

The Philadelphia Zoo partnered with a youth conservation group at the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) in the Democratic Republic of Congo to select three Swahili names from which Kira could choose. They then painted each of those three names on a box filled with treats like peanut butter and waited to see which one Kira gravitated toward.

The three options: Wasingya, which means "thank you very much"; Lwanzo, which means "love"; and Ajabu, which means "miracle."

Kira chose Ajabu. So now her miracle baby has a very fitting name.