Watch the emotional moment this first-time mama met her new baby. Seriously, get the tissues.
Congratulations are in order for first-time mama, Calaya!
Staff looked on as Calaya, a 15-year-old western lowland gorilla, gave birth to an adorable male named Moke [Mo-KEY] at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC over the weekend. Little Moke is the first male western lowland gorilla to be born at the zoo in nine years.
“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,” Meredith Bastian, curator of primates, said in a release. “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.”
Smithsonian’s National Zoo shared an incredible video of Calaya delivering Moke herself and cradling him affectionately. Since the birth, animal care staff has observed a doting Calaya nursing the infant who has been clinging closely to his mother. They are reportedly “cautiously optimistic that the newborn will thrive,” and have left mom to bond with and care for her baby without interference.
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“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,” animal keeper Melba Brown said in a statement.
“We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke,” Brown continued. “I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic. There are a lot of different personalities in this family troop, but they all work well together.”