The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute recently celebrated the arrival of a new western lowland gorilla. The baby arrived in the early morning hours of May 27 and is the first newborn of its kind in five years, according to National Zoo officials.
The newborn is the second offspring for 20-year-old mom Calaya and 31-year-old dad Baraka, the zoo announced. Their first baby, Moke, was born in 2018.
Now, with another little one in the Great Ape House, zoo caretakers are keeping a close eye on the new family and are encouraged by what they see so far.
“We are overjoyed to welcome a new infant to our western lowland gorilla troop,” said Becky Malinsky, curator of primates, in the zoo’s birth announcement. “Calaya is an experienced mother, and I have every confidence she will take excellent care of this baby, as she did with her first offspring, Moke. Since his birth in 2018, it’s been wonderful seeing her nurturing and playful side come out. I encourage people to visit our gorilla family and be inspired to help save this critically endangered species in the wild.”
The National Zoo has kept the primate exhibit closed to the public so the mother and baby have some time to bond in private. Giving the pair some quality alone time also means officials have not been able to confirm the baby’s sex yet.
Even though zoo visitors cannot see the new family in person, officials have released a series of photos showing the new mother and baby making the most of their bonding time.
There’s a close-up shot of the baby, who clearly wants to stick close to mama, that is almost too cute for words.
And, another sweet moment was captured between the nurturing mom and her beautiful new baby.
Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species, according to zoo officials, so the addition of another baby to the zoo’s troop is considered a blessing and a wonderful opportunity to help protect the species.