Mother Gorilla Cradles Her Newborn Son at Smithsonian National Zoo

Tuesday, 17 Apr, 2018

According to the zoo's website, 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 (SSP). Two male silverback brothers also live at the zoo.

'We're thrilled to share western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a male at 6:25 p.m. 4/15. The zoo also shared video showing Calaya carefully holding Moke in her arms, while giving him tender kisses on his face.

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.

Visitors may be sad to hear that the Great Ape House remains closed indefinitely to allow Calaya to nurse her infant.

Just like human moms going to maternity class, the Zoo helped Calaya learn the skills she would need to be a good mom.

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

"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", said Melba Brown, one of the keepers who prepared Calaya for Moke's arrival. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together'.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered due to disease and poaching. Lowland gorillas are classified as a critically endangered species. However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit to the public if Moke continues to thrive.