Gorilla Gives Birth to First Son Moke at Smithsonian Zoo


Moke, which means "little one" in the Lingala language, is the first male western lowland gorilla born at that zoo in almost a decade, according to a Smithsonian Magazine report. Zoo officials said his name means "little one" or "junior" in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in certain areas of the Congo.

The Smithsonian's five-gorilla troop is now made up of Moke, Calaya, 26-year-old father Baraka, another adult female called Mandara and a sub-adult female called Kibibi.

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... Zoo staff members say he's bonding with his mother, Calaya, and video shows her cleaning him after he was born. If the infant is healthy and thrives, Calaya and her infant will be on exhibit when the Great Ape House reopens but Calaya will have a choice of rooms, some of which are out of public view.

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". Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”.

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Their numbers are estimated to have declined by over 60 percent during the last 20-25 years and despite vast conservation efforts they remain listed as "critically endangered" by the World Wildlife organisation.

Moke is the first baby gorilla born at the zoo in nine years.

Just like human moms going to maternity class, the Zoo helped Calaya learn the skills she would need to be a good mom. Animal keeper Melba Brown noticed that Calaya learned best by watching the other gorillas train and repeating those actions.

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