Veterinarians and keepers were working on a sedated female ibex who was having problems with giving birth. The female had been in labor for hours and was exhausted from trying to pass the baby, which was twisted around so as to prevent it from fitting into the birth canal. To complicate matters the female was a small individual and the baby was large. Also, although they didn’t know it until later, the baby had been dead for several days and was starting to decompose.
One of the vets had managed to reach up the birth canal and get the baby untangled. The head and front legs were in the canal but the shoulders were stuck and the vet couldn’t pull hard enough. She asked one of the keepers to grab hold of the legs and help her pull.
After a few minutes of futile tugging, they decided that they needed more muscle. One of the other keepers present was a big, burly fellow so he was the obvious choice. He was more than happy to help. He was fairly new at the zoo and this was the first time he had ever participated in this sort of procedure.
He knelt down next to the others and got a good grip on one of the legs. Tugging firmly yet gently so as not to cause any damage, they began to pull. Soon someone commented that they could feel it start to move. Suddenly, the baby’s shoulder gave way and the new keeper found himself holding the unattached leg in his hands. His face expressed quite plainly that this possibility had never crossed his mind; in fact, for a few seconds he looked as if he might lose his lunch.
The vet, however, was thrilled. It was the shoulders that were stuck; if they could get the other one off too the baby would practically slide out. So, having fought once to keep his lunch down, that keeper gamely did the same for the other leg. Only this one was worse because he knew what to expect.
In the end, though, as the veterinarian had predicted, with both shoulders gone, the baby was pulled out easily. And, although she was no doubt sore for a while, the female ibex came through fine.