Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Gorilla, newborn share tender moment at the National Zoo

Gorilla, newborn share tender moment at the National Zoo

Moke's mom Calaya is a Western Lowland Gorilla who came to the National Zoo about four years ago just to breed. He was born at 6:25 p.m. April 15 and is named Moke [Mo-KEY], which means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language.

Zoo staff said the Great Ape House will open as soon as Tuesday so the public can get their first in-person look at baby Moke.

Meredith Bastian, curator of primates, said Moke's birth was "very special and significant not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole".

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The footage shows Calaya cradling her newborn shortly after giving birth - while also cleaning placenta from his head - in what appears to be a number of lovable kisses. Over 500 western lowland gorillas are in zoos around the world.

It was the first time in nine years a gorilla has given birth at the zoo with officials capturing the moment on film and sharing it on social media and their website.

Moke's parents, Calaya and Baraka, were bred following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. Because of the gorilla's endangered status, Moke makes an incredibly exciting and valuable addition.

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

Western lowlands live in central African countries including the Republic of the Congo, DRC, Cameroon and Gabon.

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

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