Unexpected surprise for mother at Zoo

A new mother from Bristol is celebrating Mother’s Day after almost giving birth to her daughter at Bristol Zoo.

Danielle Townsend, of Bishopsworth, was enjoying a day at the Zoo with her friend, mother and two-year-old son Ollie when her waters broke in the attraction’s toilets – almost a week before her expected due date. 
After alerting staff, she was rushed to the first aid room and was looked after by first aid coordinator, Ted Willman, and guest services staff, Hazel Tanner and Gayle Lacroix, until an ambulance arrived. 
“Ted and the team were fantastic and very calm. My waters broke at around 1:45pm and after having had very quick labour with my firstborn I was concerned it was going to be the same again”, explained Danielle. 
“Once I was picked up by the ambulance I was transferred to the midwife-led unit at St Michael’s Hospital and Isobel was delivered on the Central Delivery Suite at around 17:45pm. 
“The staff at Bristol Zoo were amazing in keeping me focussed and as relaxed as possible. Considering my pregnancy had been so straightforward I should have known that the labour may have been a little more eventful!”
Isobel was a rare, undiagnosed footling breech and was delivered feet first.  Danielle ended up giving birth naturally as by the time midwives had realised, Isobel was ready to enter the world. 

Ted Willman, the Zoo’s first aid coordinator, said: “In my 17 years of working in the first aid team at the Zoo we have only been close to welcoming a new human life once.

“I used to work for the ambulance service and am trained and experienced in delivering babies; however Isobel’s birthing position may have posed some challenges. We are thrilled that she was delivered safely at hospital.”

Staff from Bristol Zoo invited Danielle, Isobel and her son Ollie back to the Zoo to present baby Isobel with an adoption pack for the Zoo’s one-year-old gorilla, Afia. Ollie also received an adoption pack for the Zoo’s Asiatic lions and the family’s annual Zoo membership was extended for a further year. 

Guests planning to celebrate Mother’s Day at Bristol Zoo this weekend will be able to see the attraction’s resident mums, including Romina - surrogate mum to infant gorilla Afia – and Sirana, mother to Hugo the pygmy hippo.

For last-minute Mother’s Day gifts, including homeware, stationary, soft toys and books, visit the Zoo’s gift shop (entry to Zoo not necessary). Animal experiences and adoptions are also available to purchase at bristolzoo.org.uk


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