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OB-GYNs who helped deliver Sumatran orangutan baby call moment ‘surreal’

Sedgwick County Zoo

(WICHITA, Kan.) — Two Kansas doctors stepped in to help deliver a very special patient earlier this month — Lily the Sumatran orangutan.

Both agreed it was a moment they’ll be talking about for years to come.

Daisy, the Sedgwick County Zoo’s 33-year-old orangutan, went into labor early in the morning on Sept. 7. But according to her veterinary team, there were complications that needed a different set of doctors.

“The zookeeper noticed there was a delay in her labor. Normally they deliver very quickly and that wasn’t the case for Daisy,” Laura Whisler, an OB-GYN based in Wichita, Kansas, said.

The veterinarians were at a loss and turned to the local hospital for help.

“One of the veterinarians at the zoo is one of my personal patients that I’ve taken care of,” Whisler said. “She asked me if I’d be willing to help out.”

Whisler and fellow OB-GYN, Dr. Janna Chirby, were told Daisy needed a cesarean section.

While the experienced pair of OB-GYNs have delivered thousands of babies at Via Christi Hospital, this was their first primate.

“I’m an OB-GYN for homo sapiens, humans. Not for animals,” Chirby said.

The doctors quickly devised a game plan. A few minutes after surgery a healthy baby orangutan was born.

“It was very surreal and definitely one of the best days at my job I’ve ever had,” Chirby said.

After a couple weeks in quarantine, baby Lily is now living happily with Daisy at the zoo.

“It’s definitely one of those moments that will be part of our stories that we tell to our grandkids,” Whisler said.

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