Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Gorilla, newborn share tender moment at the National Zoo

Gorilla, newborn share tender moment at the National Zoo

Over the weekend, a male western lowland gorilla was born at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute - the first such birth at the zoo in nearly a decade.

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

Keepers trained Calaya to take voluntary ultrasound so they could monitor Moke's fetal growth.

"Calaya", one of the zoo's western lowland gorillas, gave birth to a baby boy at 6:25 p.m. Sunday.

Last summer, after a standard human pregnancy test confirmed Calaya's pregnancy, the primate team at the zoo worked diligently to prepare her as well as the zoo for the infant's birth. "Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya", Bastian said.

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

Mother Calaya and her son Moke relax at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2018, following Moke's birth. Animal keeper Melba Brown noticed that Calaya learned best by watching the other gorillas train and repeating those actions.


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

'I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. An adult female named Mandara and a sub-adult female named Kibibi round out the family.

Western lowlands live in central African countries including the Republic of the Congo, DRC, Cameroon and Gabon.

A zoo in the United States has welcomed its newest addition - a critically endangered baby gorilla.

Because they live deep in remote and heavily forested areas, it is hard to estimate the total numbers of gorillas in the wild.

Note: Reporters will not be able to come to the Zoo for photos or video.

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