Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Roll: Western lowland gorilla, Calaya, giving birth

Roll: Western lowland gorilla, Calaya, giving birth

The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conversation Biology Institute welcomed a baby gorilla to their family on Sunday.

The astonishing gorilla birth was the first in nine years to take place at the zoo.

'We're thrilled to share western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a male at 6:25 p.m. 4/15.

His name is Moke (pronounced Mo-Key), which means "junior" or "little one" in Lingala.

Meredith Bastian, the Zoo's curator of primates, said Calaya's first baby was significant for the zoo as well as the "critically endangered species as a whole". Zookeepers asked Calaya to touch and kiss the plush baby, hold it gently and present her chest so it can nurse.

Natural instinct and a mother's love: Western lowland gorilla showers smooches on newborn at Smithsonian's National
VIDEO: Gorilla mom snuggles her newborn baby at National Zoo

The adorable baby gorilla was bred last summer by 15-year-old mom Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka.

Uplifting footage has emerged of a western lowland gorilla cradling her newborn baby and kissing its head. Mandara successfully fostered six infants, and she was ready to step in if Calaya had difficulty with her son, but it looks like Calaya and Moke will get along just fine as mother and son. "Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya".

Native to Central African Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the lowland gorilla species adds one more to its dwindling number, and hopefully through conservation and other efforts, these creatures will thrive in the coming decades. Staff has closed the Great Ape House to allow Calaya to bond with and care for her baby without interference.

'I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed them as critically endangered due to disease and poaching.

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