In a remarkable video taken just after the birth, the male western lowland gorilla is seen being kissed by his mother at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington on Sunday. He was born at 6:25 p.m. April 15 and is named Moke [Mo-KEY], which means "junior" or "little one" in the Lingala language.
The zoo says Moke's parents, mother Calaya and father Baraka, bred last summer following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan (SSP).
Uplifting footage has emerged of a western lowland gorilla cradling her newborn baby and kissing its head.
Although it is illegal to poach gorillas, they continue to be under threat due to a local demand for bush meat - and as a result of the capture of baby gorillas for pets.
Calaya lays her son down in the zoo enclosure at the Washington D.C zoo (Picture: Smithsonian)'Keepers report that Calaya has been caring for her infant & are optimistic he will thrive. Over 500 western lowland gorillas are in zoos around the world.
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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", said Meredith Bastian, the curator of primates.
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.
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. The Great Ape House is closed to provide Calaya a quiet space to bond with her infant.
'I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic.