Thursday, 19 April, 2018


Gorilla mom snuggles her newborn baby at National Zoo

Gorilla mom Smithsonian Zoo
Bennie Garza | 17 April, 2018, 11:13

Zoo officials said his name means "little one" or "junior" in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in certain areas of the Congo.

The gorilla birth is the first at the zoo in nine years. Zookeepers have observed Calaya nursing the infant are "cautiously optimistic" that Moke will do well in her care.

The proud parents are 15-year-old first-time mother Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka.

Over the weekend, a male western lowland gorilla was born at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute - the first such birth at the zoo in nearly a decade.

"[It] is very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole", the zoo's curator of primates, Meredith Bastian, said.

The mother can be seen cleaning, kissing and cradling Moke in the incredible video.

'The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. The Great Ape House was closed Monday to allow mom and infant to bond. Throughout her pregnancy, which lasted roughly nine months, Calaya received ultrasounds, hormone testing, and learned how to prepare her breasts for lactation.

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.

Had Calaya been unable to care for Moke, the zoo had a foster gorilla mother in place to look after him.

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

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered due to disease and poaching.

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