Smithsonian National Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

Gorilla Calaya cradles her newborn baby

Smithsonian National Zoo welcomes baby gorilla

The newborn's name, Moke [pronounced mo-KEY], means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language.

The Washington D.C. zoo says the newborn, named Moke, is the first male western lowland gorilla born at the facility in nine years. Animal care staff are leaving Calaya to bond with and care for her baby without interference.

The zoo says western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a baby boy at 6:25 p.m. on Sunday.

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.

The adorable baby gorilla was bred last summer by 15-year-old mom Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka.

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'The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. They also prepared Calaya for motherhood by showing her photos of mother gorillas and giving her a plush gorilla toy to touch, kiss and practice nursing. "We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke". However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit to the public if Moke continues to thrive.

Staff spent months training Calaya for pregnancy and birth, including getting her to take part in ulstrasounds, urinate on cue, and learn breastfeeding techniques.

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

"I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic".

The endangered lowland gorilla species lost about 60 percent of its population over the past two and a half decades for several reasons including poaching and disease.

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