The infant is the first baby gorilla to be born in the zoo in nine years; in an update to their Facebook page, the conservation institute said the pair "spent today resting and bonding in the Great Ape House" and that Calaya "has been nursing and cradling Moke closely". "Primate keepers are happy to report that Calaya has been caring for her infant and are optimistic he will thrive".
"The primate team's goal was to set Calaya up for success as best we could, given that she is a first-time mother", said Meredith Bastian, the curator of primates.
Footage from the national zoo in Washington DC shows the sweet moment mum Calaya gives her son Moke - pronounced "Mo-key" - on Sunday.
She then gently kisses Moke several times while admiring him and holding the baby close before laying him down to rest inside the enclosure. The gorilla quickly mastered basic husbandry behaviors, which formed the basis for more complicated maternal training, including ultrasounds, urinating on cue for hormone analysis and breast manipulation for lactation assessments and nutrient analysis.
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Her mother, Calaya, is a familiar name to Washington. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. Calaya resides in a mixed-sex gorilla troop with Baraka, an adult female named Mandara and a sub-adult female named Kibibi.
Western lowlands live in central African countries including the Republic of the Congo, DRC, Cameroon and Gabon.
The Smithsonian National Zoo shared raw video of baby Moke's birth, the first of its kind at the zoo in nearly a decade.
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.