WASHINGTON – The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute welcomed a male western lowland gorilla on Sunday evening.
The baby gorilla’s name is Moke (Mo-KEY), which means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language.
Animal care staff have observed Moke’s mother, 15-year-old Calaya, nursing the infant. They are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive.
“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 primate team’s goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”
Staff are leaving Calaya to bond with and care for Moke without interference. The Great Ape House is closed to give Calaya quiet time to bond with her baby.