Zoo welcomes birth of baby gorilla

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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.

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

A USA zoo has welcomed the birth of a male western lowland gorilla this week, a breed listed as critically endangered due to disease and poaching.

"The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother", said Meredith Bastian, the curator of primates.

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

Uplifting footage has emerged of a western lowland gorilla cradling her newborn baby and kissing its head.

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Animal keeper Melba Brown said zoo officials are certain Calaya will be an excellent caregiver to her new son. Throughout her pregnancy, which lasted roughly nine months, Calaya received ultrasounds, hormone testing, and learned how to prepare her breasts for lactation. An adult female named Mandara and a sub-adult female named Kibibi round out the family. Previously, Mandara raised Baraka as a foster offspring shortly after his birth.

Western lowlands live in central African countries including the Republic of the Congo, DRC, Cameroon and Gabon.

The Smithsonian National Zoo is doing its part to slow the decline in the gorilla population with a new addition to the troop. Scientists estimate that in the past 20 to 25 years, the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased by 60 percent.

Since Calaya's pregnancy was confirmed using a standard human pregnancy test in fall 2017, staff have been getting ready for Moke's arrival.

Apes! They're great, aren't they?

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