First-time mother Calaya gave birth to her son, Moke - pronounced mo-KEY - a western lowland gorilla, on Sunday at the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C.
"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 Meredith Bastian, curator of primates. The new mom has already taken to nursing her son and that they are "optimistic he will thrive", the zoo announced on their Facebook page along with more incredible videos of Calaya cradling and loving her newborn.
The baby was born to Calaya, a 15-year-old gorilla, and Baraka, who is 26. Zoo staff members say he's bonding with his mother, Calaya, and video shows her cleaning him after he was born. Because the team trained Calaya to participate voluntarily in ultrasounds, they have been able to monitor fetal growth and development throughout the pregnancy. "The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother".
Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, so the zoo says it is thrilled to have a new addition to the family.
New born lowland gorilla Moke. Pic Smithsonian’s National Zoo
'Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya'. The infant was clinging closely to his mother.
"We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mum to Moke".
'I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. Calaya resides in a mixed-sex gorilla troop with Baraka, an adult female named Mandara and a sub-adult female named Kibibi.
The extremely caring mother is seen in video footage holding onto her baby while keeping a locked gaze on him.