Zoo welcomes birth of baby gorilla

Natural instinct and a mother’s love Western lowland gorilla showers smooches on newborn at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Natural instinct and a mother’s love Western lowland gorilla showers smooches on newborn at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Moke's mom Calaya is a Western Lowland Gorilla who came to the National Zoo about four years ago just to breed.

A United States zoo has welcomed the birth of a male western lowland gorilla this week, a breed listed as critically endangered due to disease and poaching. They are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive.

Moke, which means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language, was born at 6.25pm.

"The birth of this western lowland gorilla is very special and significant, not only to our zoo family, but also to this critically endangered species as a whole", said primate curator Meredith Bastian.

Last summer 15-year-old mom Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka successfully bred together and everyone at the zoo is delighted with their new addition.

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.

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...

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists it as critically endangered due to disease and poaching. Zookeepers asked Calaya to touch and kiss the plush baby, hold it gently and present her chest so it can nurse.

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

"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".

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