Gorilla born at Smithsonian National Zoo

Gorilla mom

Over the weekend, a male western lowland gorilla was born at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute - the first such birth at the zoo in nearly a decade.

"Calaya", one of the zoo's western lowland gorillas, gave birth to a baby boy at 6:25 p.m. Sunday.

Calaya lays her son down in the zoo enclosure at the Washington D.C zoo (Picture: Smithsonian)'Keepers report that Calaya has been caring for her infant & are optimistic he will thrive.

The baby gorilla's name is "Moke", which means "Junior" or "Little One" in Lingala.

Meredith Bastian, the Zoo's curator of primates, said Calaya's first baby was significant for the zoo as well as the "critically endangered species as a whole".

Calaya is a 15-year-old gorilla while Moke's father is a 26-year-old called Baraka.

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.

Calaya's maternal instinct was clear to see with her newborn Moke (Picture: Smithsonian)'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.

Animal keeper Melba Brown said zoo officials are certain Calaya will be an excellent caregiver to her new son.

Calaya is a first time mom, and caretakers said she is doing an awesome job, cradling the baby and even breastfeeding. The Great Ape House is closed to give Calaya quiet time to bond with her baby. Lowland gorillas are classified as a critically endangered species.

Westen lowland gorillas are native to Africa and live in the forests of Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic.

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