Louisville Magazine

SEP 2016

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.16 63 Clockwise this page: Kindi holds on to the fur for a ride on the back of a keeper; Jill Katka is one of the leaders of the Kindi Care Team; Alexis Williamson, a longtime zookeeper and key member of Kindi Care Team. Photo courtesy of Louisville Zoo Photos by Chris Witzke manage populations and ensure health, breeding is tightly controlled.) She had been a wonderfully attentive mother with two previous children, the last of whom was born in 2010. An over-the-counter urine test confirmed she was pregnant. For eight months, all went smoothly. en, later on March 15, the day after delivery, texts start circulating among zoo staff. Another keeper named Michelle Wise visits Williamson. Mia's not well. e zoo's veterinarian, Dr. Zoli Gyimesi, finds Mia barely breathing. He intubates her. Chest compressions begin. ey use a manual resuscitator to deliver breaths. A shot of epinephrine is administered. For 20 or so minutes they try to revive her. e next time Williamson hears an update it's from the hallway. Wise is crying on the other side of the hospital room's white wall. When Williamson's phone pings just after 8, she knows: Mia's gone. She looks down at the infant who is not yet named and whispers, over and over she whispers, "You have to be OK to make this OK. You have to survive to make this OK." In the weeks that follow, Mia's death will be blamed on birth complications. e morning of March 14, a trail of blood was discovered in one of the zoo's exhibit spaces known as Day Room One. e zoo's bachelor group of gorillas — four rowdy males — were in a nearby room banging around, a sign of distress. ey knew something wasn't right. Mia was lying on a shelf some 12 feet in the air on her side. Keepers quickly discovered the blood was hers. ey loaded her in a white transport van and drove her up the steep hill at the zoo, past the elephants and zebras, to the on-site hospital. Later, doctors learned Mia suffered from partial placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta covers some of the cervix, the infant's way out. Bleeding erupted when the placenta peeled away from the uterus. In humans, this sort of condition could be detected by ultrasound. But the ultrasounds Mia received lasted just a few minutes. She didn't like the gel. Blueberries and yogurt couldn't persuade her to stay pressed against the mesh while an ultrasonographer poked at her belly. e bleeding, though, that's not what killed her. A necropsy showed a blood clot obstructed her bowels. (Gorilla anatomy so resembles that of humans, the zoo recruited Jefferson County Coroner Barbara Weakley-Jones to assist with the necropsy.) Mother nature designs pregnant mammals to ramp up their clot- ting abilities so they don't bleed out upon delivery. at lifesaving gift also heightens the chance of a fatal clot. Katka knew Mia's troop would want to mourn. So before Mia's cadaver was shipped to the University of Kentucky for scientific research by a paleoanthropologist, Paki, Mshindi and Kwali gath- ered by the body. Paki, Mia's best buddy, reached for Mia's face, charcoal-colored fingers touching her eyes and cheeks. Katka calls the Columbus Zoo. If she and her keepers must mother this infant until a gorilla can take over — a first for the Louisville Zoo — she wants to learn from the best, folks

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