Asheboro, NC - It's a rare event in the zoo world for one facility to see three baby gorillas born in less than a year. But the excitement at the North Carolina Zoo on Monday was somewhat subdued when, after a day of labor, the latest addition to the gorilla collection had to be delivered via caesarean section.

"After a long and difficult labor, our female gorilla ‘Acacia' delivered a baby boy late Sunday afternoon," said General Curator Ken Reininger. "Acacia's labor began Saturday morning and when she didn't progress after about 24 hours our veterinary staff had to perform a C-section to deliver the infant."

By noon Monday the infant appeared to be stable and keepers were preparing to place the baby with its mother, said Curator of Mammals Adrian Fowler. The two had been separated after the birth.

"We will try to reunite the two as soon as possible," Fowler said. "But the yet-to-be-named infant and mother appear to be doing fairly well, under the circumstances. For now they will remain under 24-hour observation by the staff. But given the nature of the birth, it's not certain when the baby will be on exhibit."

Sunday's birth is the third Western Lowland Gorilla baby to be born at the N.C. Zoo since August 4, 2012. That's when male infant "Bomassa" was born to 12-year-old "Jamani," another of the zoo's three adult females. That birth was only the second gorilla born at the N.C. Zoo and the first since the State Zoo's first infant gorilla, "Kwanza," was born in March 1989. Then, on August 31, 2012, 16-year-old "Olympia" gave birth to another male infant which keepers named "Apollo." Acacia came to the N.C. Zoo from the Oklahoma City Zoological Park in February 2010.

The father of all three infants is "Nkosi," age 20, who arrived at the N.C. Zoo from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio in March 2008. All four adults came to Asheboro and were recommended for breeding under the auspices of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). The SSPs have been developed by AZA to improve the care and breeding of animals in captivity and include plans for more than 500 species.

"To have three female gorillas, all within the same group...get pregnant and give birth within an 11-month span is an extremely unusual event," observed veteran N.C. Zoo gorilla keeper Aaron Jesue.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John E. Skvarla,III, secretary; Pat McCrory, governor.