A mother gorilla cradled her newborn baby in a touching video released by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.
Calaya, 15, gave birth to her son, Moke, on Sunday evening, the zoo said.
This is the first birth of a male western lowland gorilla at the D.C zoo in nine years.
“Moke,” which mean “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language, was indeed little in his mother’s arms as she held and kissed him on the forehead.
Calaya and the father, Baraka, 26, had the baby following a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. She conceived Moke in November.
“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,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates.
“The primate team’s goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother. Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya.”
The zoo said in a statement that they are “cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive.”
It also said the staff is leaving the mother gorilla to bond with and care for her baby without interference.