The National Zoo in Washington D.C. announced that 15-year-old gorilla Calaya gave birth to her baby Moke on April 15th. His name, pronounced Mo-Key, means “Little One” in Lingala, a Bantu language common throughout NW Congo in Africa, where Moke’s gorilla ancestors hail from.
The heartwarming first encounter between mother and son was caught on film and released the following day on the Smithsonian’s Youtube Channel.
Let us warn you though, the absolute and overwhelming love between the two creates a real tear-jerker.
Moke is the first baby Western-lowland gorilla born in captivity in nine years, according to the National Zoo, and presents an important landmark in efforts to rescue what is largely a dying population.
In a statement released by The World Wildlife Fund, they indicate that Moke’s species are critically endangered:
Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60% over the last 20 to 25 years. Even if all of the threats to western lowland gorillas were removed, scientists calculate that the population would require some 75 years to recover.
How could anyone ever poach anything so precious as this little guy, or his loving parents for that matter? Could you ever conceive of doing anything but loving this sweet little face?
Ahhhh! The cuteness is UNBEARABLE!!
Little Moke’s birth comes as fantastic news in light of the efforts being made to save their species from extinction.
Animal lovers everywhere are dishing out heartfelt thanks on the National Zoo’s Twitter page for their amazing conservation efforts.
Thank you to everyone @NationalZoo who helped bring Moke safely into the world last week and thank you for allowing the world to share in Calaya and Moke’s beautiful story. So happy mother and baby gorilla are thriving! https://t.co/ibbnsJHG4j
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) April 26, 2018
While Moke’s father Baraka is somewhat distant (such is the nature of male gorillas), the 26-year-old father is still hyperaware of Moke, and apparently reluctantly in love. According to the National Zoo,
Though Baraka tends to explore the habitat on his own, keepers have observed him approaching Calaya and staring intently at Moke.
Baby Moke appears to be acquainting himself with life at a fast pace, as the Zoo employees describe the baby gorilla as “quick and alert”, as he searches their faces and movements, and those of his fellow primates.
Calaya seems to be taking to motherhood with equal speed and excitement. The National Zoo released this video on their Twitter page on the April 23rd, just over a week after the monumental birth took place.
❤🦍 Western lowland gorillas Calaya and Moke soaked up some ☀ rays this morning at the Great Ape House outdoor yard! Read the latest #GorillaStory update: https://t.co/LQZeh5HV5M. pic.twitter.com/YgGvunJGBk
— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) April 23, 2018
Although we LOVE seeing how well baby gorilla Moke is adjusting to his newfound space in the world, it is those first moments after his birth that has the world going gaga over gorillas.
Within seconds of being placed in her arms, Calaya stares in awe for but a moment at her new child. She then immediately showers Moke with kisses as she wipes away the remnants of after-birth so he can breathe clearly.
A huge thanks to the Zoo employees and conservationists everywhere, for making moments like this possible!
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Source: Smithsonian’s National Zoo