A baby gorilla, the first in nine years, was born at the Smithsonian National Zoo on April 15, while the staff managed to capture extraordinary images of the happy event.
“We are delighted to share that the Calaya gorilla from the Western Lowlands of Africa gave birth to a male at 6:25 p.m. from April 15. His name, Moke, (pronounced Mokey) means “junior” or “small” in the Lingala language. Guardians report that Calaya has been taking care of her baby and are optimistic that she will thrive, “the Zoo wrote on its Twitter,
The animal care staff – adds the report – said that in the last few hours she has observed Calaya breastfeeding the baby, keeping it always close. They say that for now they are “cautiously optimistic that the newborn will prosper.” In addition, the mother has let her caregivers intervene with Moke without interference.
Mother and son are occupying an extensive closed area of the Zoo so that they have a quiet space.
In the fall of 2017, the Zoo confirmed that Calaya had successfully conceived, and the sweet mother was regularly monitored with ultrasound.
“Because the team trained Calaya to participate voluntarily in ultrasounds, they have been able to control the growth and development of the fetus throughout the pregnancy,” the Zoo said.
” The birth of this western gorilla is very special and significant, not only for our Zoo family but also for this critically endangered species “Said Meredith Bastian, a primate curator.
Calaya on April 6, 2018. (Smithsonian Zoo through Instagram) Calaya is a first-time mother, so Bastian explained that preparing her required great patience and dedication on the part of the team. “I’m very proud of them and Calaya.”
A part of the preparation was to acclimatize the gorilla to the experiences of motherhood. Animal caretaker Melba Brown said that Calaya carefully observed photos of other gorillas taking care of babies and repeated those actions. further gave him a stuffed gorilla to learn to put your baby on your breast, feed him, touch him and kiss him gently.
” The gorilla quickly mastered the basic parenting behaviors that formed the basis for more complicated maternal training, which included ultrasound, peeing at the time of hormonal analysis and breast manipulation for lactation evaluations and nutrient analyzes, “said Brown.
” The arrival of this baby causes many emotions: joy, emotion, relief and pride that all our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off, “Brown said.
Gorilla Gorilla and her baby Moke on April 16, 2018. (Smithsonian Zoo) Brown is optimistic. ” Calaya will be a great mother to Moke. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will fit into the dynamics of the group. ” .
Gorillas live in groups called troops, which are usually composed of a silverback male (adult), one or more black-backed males, several adult females and their young and young. Calaya resides in a troop of gorillas with Baraka, an adult female named Mandara and a subadult female named Kibibi. His brothers Silverback, Kwame and Kojo live together in another group of singles.
“In case Calaya did not want to or could not care for her baby, the caregivers prepared Mandara , a mother with experience of six children to act as a foster mother as a precautionary measure. Previously, Mandara raised Baraka as an adopted son shortly after his birth, “said the Zoo.
The gorillas of the western lowlands of Africa live in freedom in the forests of Gabon, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo .
They are critically endangered due to diseases caused by their reduced habitat and poaching, reports The International Union for Conservation of Nature, according to the Smithsonian. It is estimated that in the last 20 to 25 years, the number of wild gorillas in these lands has decreased by 60 percent .
Calaya and her baby will continue at the Zoo , where they will have a selection of rooms to be together, some of which are not in view of the public, so they can maintain their privacy.