All signs pointed to the likelihood that a healthy baby would be born to Samantha, a 36-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her pregnancy had no problems and delivery was within hours of the projected due date.
But when Samantha's baby was delivered Thursday morning, zoo officials discovered there will be no addition to the gorilla family.
Around 3 a.m., Samantha gave birth to a stillborn baby. It might take several weeks to determine the cause.
"To be honest, it's a little frustrating because everything went great with Samantha," said Ron Evans, primate center team leader. "Everything about this baby and the pregnancy was absolutely ideal. You can't help but feel rotten."
Samantha cradled the baby in her arms Friday. Zoo officials did not have the heart to take the newborn away yet, Evans said. The baby's gender was still unknown.
It wasn't clear whether Samantha understood what happened, but Evans said it won't be much longer.
"We have to give her time to put the baby down and she'll do it when she's ready," he said. "However deeply gorillas understand their own mortality, I'm sure it makes parting a little easier."