Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Smithsonian National Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

Smithsonian National Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

Moke, which means "little one" in the Lingala language, is the first male western lowland gorilla born at that zoo in almost a decade, according to a Smithsonian Magazine report. Born on April 15, the baby is named Moke, which means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language.

The zoo took to social media to announce the birth, posting: "We are thrilled to share that western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a male at 6.25pm yesterday".

Moke's parents, Calaya and Baraka, were bred 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.

Last summer, after a standard human pregnancy test confirmed Calaya's pregnancy, the primate team at the zoo worked diligently to prepare her as well as the zoo for the infant's birth.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered due to disease and poaching. Over 500 western lowland gorillas are in zoos around the world.

Calaya is a first time mom, and caretakers said she is doing an awesome job, cradling the baby and even breastfeeding. "We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke". Scientists estimate that in the past 20 to 25 years, the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased by 60 percent. In general, gorilla babies weigh about four pounds when they are born. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together'.

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