SAN DIEGO, California -

The veterinary staff at the San Diego Zoo performed a rare emergency cesarean section on a distressed gorilla.

Imani, an 18-year-old first-time mother, gave birth to a 4.6-pound baby gorilla Wednesday night.

"In retrospect, the C-section was the right decision," veterinarian Nadine Lamberski explained, "We think that the health of the fetus would have been compromised if we'd delayed surgery any longer."

The baby gorilla was later put in intensive care to receive oxygen and fluids at the hospital.

The mother is also recovering.