Baby Gorilla
"Our thoughts are with gorilla Imani, her baby girl. Get well soon little one!" staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said of the baby gorilla recovering after rare c-section delivery. SanDiegoZoo/Facebook

In a rare event, a gorilla has given birth to a baby via c-section at a zoo in San Diego in California.

The 18-year-old gorilla, Imani, was safely delivered of a female baby gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

"Imani showed signs of labour and was closely observed by animal care and veterinary staff," the zoo officials said in a statement.

"By evening, she showed no signs of progress and was transported to the Safari Park veterinary hospital for an emergency c-section."

The newborn is the 17th gorilla to be born at the zoo that houses a total of eight gorillas, including the new baby. She is the first baby of Imani.

The baby was born in full-term and weighed 4.6 pounds (2kg) at birth. However, she is currently in intensive care receiving oxygen and supplemental fluids at a veterinary hospital.

Mother gorilla Imani is also recovering from the surgery, the doctors said.

According to the authorities, the baby is having some complications which veterinary surgeons believe are because of the difficult labour.

"In retrospect the c-section was the right decision," Nadine Lamberski, associate director of veterinary services at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park said of the newborn gorilla.

"We think the health of the foetus would have been compromised if we delayed the surgery any longer."

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is now home to eight gorillas: four female (Vila, Kamilah, Kokamo and Imani), two young males (three-year-old Monroe and six-year-old Frank), the newborn female baby and an adult male gorilla (Winston, the silverback leader of the troop).

Watch a YouTube video of the newborn below.