Smithsonian's National Zoo welcomes newborn gorilla

Primate staff at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are celebrating the firs birth of a male western lowland gorilla in nine years

Smithsonian's National Zoo welcomes newborn gorilla

Footage and photos of Calaya the gorilla have been shared after she gave birth to her son Moke (pronounced "Mo-key", which is conveniently similar to "monkey", although as any Terry Pratchett fan will tell you, apes =/= monkeys) at the Smithsonian National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute in Washington DC.

It has been named Moke - meaning "junior" or "little one" in the African Lingala language - and is bonding well with its mother, Calaya.

It's the zoo first such birth in nine years.

Mum Calaya welcomes Moke into the worldSmithsonian's National ZooCalaya initially cradles her new-born sonSmithsonian's National ZooJust one kiss isn't enough for adoring mum CalayaSmithsonian's National ZooAnd another... Because of the gorilla's endangered status, Moke makes an incredibly exciting and valuable addition.

Zoo staff said the Great Ape House will open as soon as Tuesday so the public can get their first in-person look at baby Moke. However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit if the youngster continues to thrive.

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

Meredith Bastian, curator of primates, said: '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.

She then gently kisses Moke several times while admiring him and holding the baby close before laying him down to rest inside the enclosure.

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

Native to the forested and swampy areas of central Africa, western lowland gorillas have seen their population fall by around 60 percent over the last 25 years.

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