First Gorilla Born At National Zoo In 9 Years

Primate staff at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are celebrating the firs birth of a male western lowland gorilla in nine years

Smithsonian National Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

Western Lowland Gorilla Calaya gave birth to Moke on Sunday (local time) at Washington's Smithsonian National Zoo after being bred with fellow gorilla Baraka in 2017.

The baby gorilla's name is Moke (Mo-KEY), which means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language. His mother, a 15-year-old named Calaya, began caring for him shortly after his birth, which is an excellent sign for the first time mother because sometimes, new gorilla mothers are either unable or unwilling to care for their newborns.

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...

Although it is illegal to poach gorillas, they continue to be under threat due to a local demand for bush meat - and as a result of the capture of baby gorillas for pets. They are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive. "We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke". Staff has closed the Great Ape House to allow Calaya to bond with and care for her baby without interference.

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"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", maternal training leader Melba Brown said.

The endangered lowland gorilla species lost about 60 percent of its population over the past two and a half decades for several reasons including poaching and disease. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together'.

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

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