Fans of a Prague zoo gorilla named Kamba who earned nationwide fame in a 2005 mock radio reality show were mourning Wednesday after her offspring died during birth. The 35-year-old gorilla was brought to the zoo from Cameroon in autumn 2005 when Czech Radio opened its mock reality-style show focussed on the life of the zoo's gorilla family.
While the new female's entry proved dramatic at first, calm Kamba soon became its darling. After the popular programme ended, the station continued live online broadcasts from the gorilla pavilion.
Kamba's followers watched her pregnancy online for some three months expecting her to give birth any day, as forecasts of the due date turned out to be inaccurate.
However, on Wednesday Kamba tore her umbilical cord, which suffocated her partly-delivered first-born. The news of the baby gorilla's death triggered a wave of grief among the community of Kamba's online fans.
"I wept like a little girl when I saw those little heels that are not moving," one wrote in a Czech Radio chatroom.
Spirits were also low among Czech Radio employees who had monitored Kamba's pregnancy day and night since mid January.
"Some of them cried," Miroslav Bobek, the director of Czech Radio Online, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. "It was a blow for us. We have been living with the gorillas for a year and a half."
Other members of the Prague zoo gorilla band have been cautiously observing Kamba's ordeal. One followed her closely as she slowly moved around the gorilla run and gently examined the tiny legs and torso dangling from her body.
As Kamba has struggled to push out the stillborn, the zoo summoned a team of specialists, including a gynaecologist and an anesthetist from Prague hospitals, who plan to separate Kamba from the others, anesthetize her and relieve her of the dead foetus, zoo spokesman Vit Kahle said.