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Western lowland gorilla born at National Zoo

17 April 2018

This is the first time in nine years that there has been a male western lowland gorilla born at the National Zoo.

According to a post on the National Zoo's Facebook page, the little one came into the world at 6:25 p.m.

The newborn's name, Moke [pronounced mo-KEY], means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language. Zookeepers have observed Calaya nursing the infant are "cautiously optimistic" that Moke will do well in her care.

The parents-15 year old mother Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka-bred in summer 2017 following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan (SSP).

Meredith Bastian, the Zoo's curator of primates, said Calaya's first baby was significant for the zoo as well as the "critically endangered species as a whole".

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

'Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya'. The Great Ape House is closed to give Calaya quiet time to bond with her baby. However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit to the public if Moke continues to thrive.

'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.

Had Calaya been unable to care for Moke, the zoo had a foster gorilla mother in place to look after him.

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

Western lowland gorillas are considered critically endangered, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Western lowland gorilla born at National Zoo