Critically endangered western lowland gorilla born in Smithsonian zoo

Critically endangered western lowland gorilla born in Smithsonian zoo

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 baby's name, Moke, means "junior" or "little one" in Lingala, the zoo said. Zoo staff members say he's bonding with his mother, Calaya, and video shows her cleaning him after he was born.

Calaya is a first time mom, and caretakers said she is doing an awesome job, cradling the baby and even breastfeeding.

The zoo took to social media to announce the birth, posting: "We are thrilled to share that western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a male at 6.25pm yesterday".

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed them as critically endangered due to disease and poaching.

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Calaya was taught to urinate on command to allow hormone analysis and to manipulate her breasts to assess lactation and allow nutrient evaluations.

Mandara, who has herself raised six children, was being prepared as a foster mother in case Calaya was unable or unwilling to look after Moke, as first-time gorilla mothers sometimes are. They say there are less than 200,000 left in the wild.

The extremely caring mother is seen in video footage holding onto her baby while keeping a locked gaze on him.

"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", Ms Brown said. The Great Ape House is closed to provide Calaya a quiet space to bond with her infant.

Last summer 15-year-old mom Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka successfully bred together and everyone at the zoo is delighted with their new addition.

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