Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute welcomes baby gorilla

Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute welcomes baby gorilla

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.

The baby gorilla's name is "Moke", which means "Junior" or "Little One" in Lingala. "Primate keepers are happy to report that Calaya has been caring for her infant and are optimistic he will thrive".

She gave birth to son Moke on Sunday, the first western lowland gorilla birth in nine years at the zoo. “The primate teams goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother.

'Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya'. Zookeepers asked Calaya to touch and kiss the plush baby, hold it gently and present her chest so it can nurse.

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...

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

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Staff taught Calaya breastfeeding techniques while she was pregnant. An adult female named Mandara and a sub-adult female named Kibibi round out the family. Silverback brothers, Kwame and Kojo, live together in a bachelor troop. Previously, Mandara raised Baraka as a foster offspring shortly after his birth.

Native to the forested and swampy areas of central Africa, western lowland gorillas have seen their population fall by around 60 percent over the last 25 years.

Astonishing photographs and video from the National Zoo show the first interaction between a mother gorilla and her newborn baby.

Note: Reporters will not be able to come to the Zoo for photos or video.

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