Zoo welcomes birth of critically endangered western lowland baby gorilla

Gorilla Calaya cradles her newborn baby

Moke's mom Calaya is a Western Lowland Gorilla who came to the National Zoo about four years ago just to breed. "Primate keepers are happy to report that Calaya has been caring for her infant and are optimistic he will thrive". His name, Moke, means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language.

The parents, 15 year old mother Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka, bred in summer 2017 following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan.

The Washington, D.C. zoo released a video of the birth, in which Calaya can be seen delivering her own baby and holding Moke close, cleaning his head and face with tender kisses. Luckily, the pregnancy process for western lowland gorillas is not so different from their human cousins.

Mum Calaya welcomes Moke into the worldSmithsonian's National ZooCalaya initially cradles her new-born sonSmithsonian's National ZooJust one kiss isn't enough for adoring mum CalayaSmithsonian's National ZooAnd another...

Calaya was also shown photos of other mother gorillas and was given a plush gorilla toy to handle.

"The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother", said Meredith Bastian, the curator of primates.

Westen lowland gorillas are native to Africa and live in the forests of Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

Their numbers are estimated to have declined by over 60 percent during the last 20-25 years and despite vast conservation efforts they remain listed as "critically endangered" by the World Wildlife organisation.

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

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