National Zoo celebrates birth of baby gorilla

(PHOTO: Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A baby gorilla was born at the National Zoo Sunday, zoo officials say.

This is the first time in nine years a male western lowland gorilla has been born at the zoo.

Moke, which means “little one” in Lingala language, was born at 6:25 p.m.

The parents, 15 year old mother Calaya and 26-year-old father Baraka, bred in summer 2017, officials say.

Animal care staff say they are cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive. Calaya is being left alone to bond with and care for her baby without interference. The Great Ape House is closed to provide Calaya a quiet space to bond with her infant, officials say.

“We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic,” said Animal Keeper, Melba Brown.