Roll: Western lowland gorilla, Calaya, giving birth

17 April, 2018, 14:15 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Gorilla mom

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. 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.

Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, so the zoo says it is thrilled to have a new addition to the family. "We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke".

Staff are leaving Calaya to bond with and care for Moke without interference. However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit if the youngster continues to thrive. Because the team trained Calaya to participate voluntarily in ultrasounds, they have been able to monitor fetal growth and development throughout the pregnancy.

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

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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.

Because they live deep in remote and heavily forested areas, it is hard to estimate the total numbers of gorillas in the wild. In general, gorilla babies weigh about four pounds when they are born.

'This infant's arrival triggers many emotions-joy, excitement, relief-and pride that all of our perseverance in preparing Calaya for motherhood has paid off.

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.

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