By Marty Graham
SAN DIEGO, March 19 (Reuters) - A baby gorilla who came down with pneumonia after being born in a rare Caesarean section at the San Diego Zoo has improved enough to begin drinking formula from bottles and to breathe on her own, zoo officials said on Wednesday.
The baby gorilla, a girl, was delivered by C-section on March 13 after its 18-year-old mother, Imani, went into labor at the zoo but was unable to complete the delivery, according to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
"For those who have been following the gorilla closely, you'll notice she's got a lot more hair, and we think that she's really doing well on the formula," said Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the zoo.
"She's getting a lot of calories, and you can see that she changes every day. She's developing normally and very rapidly," Lamberski added.
The baby, the 17th gorilla delivered at the Southern California zoo, was treated for pneumonia with antibiotics and other medication until Tuesday. The baby also had a collapsed lung that was reinflated and no longer required supplemental oxygen.
"It's pretty obvious that we've been dealing with pneumonia," Lamberski said. "It probably occurred at about the time of birth. It's not really clear if it occurred just prior to birth or immediately following birth."
The baby, an endangered western lowland gorilla , weighed 4.6 pounds on delivery and is a full-term infant. The gorilla, which has not yet been named, has been drinking human baby formula.
Meanwhile, Imani has recovered from her C-section and joined the park's other adult gorillas in a familiar habitat. Once the baby is healthy enough, zoo staff hopes to reunite the pair, officials said. (Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jan Paschal)