Gorilla mom gives sweet kisses to newborn at Smithsonian Zoo

Esequiel Farfan
Abril 17, 2018

The Smithsonian National Zoo is celebrating the birth of a western lowland gorilla - the first time a male has been born at the Washington, D.C. zoo in nine years.

Moke arrived at 6:25 p.m. Sunday. Zoo officials said his name means "little one" or "junior" in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in certain areas of the Congo.

"Keepers report that Calaya has been caring for her infant & are optimistic he will thrive".

The baby was born to Calaya, a 15-year-old gorilla, and Baraka, who is 26.

In order to let mother and son bond in peace, the zoo's Great Ape House is closed to the public for the next few days.

Zookeepers confirmed Calaya's pregnancy last fall using a common human pregnancy test, according to a Smithsonian news release. "The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother".

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"[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.

'Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya'.

Calaya became an online star after the zoo announced she was pregnant with the hashtag #GorillaStory, which will continue to be used to update followers on Moke's progress.

"We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mum to Moke".

"This infant's arrival triggers many emotions-joy, excitement, relief-and pride that all of our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off", said Brown. While Baraka has been "laid-back" toward his offspring, Mandara and Kibibi have shown lots of interest in Moke.

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