THIS is the tender moment a gorilla mum welcomes her new-born baby into the world – with a gentle kiss.
Footage from the national zoo in Washington DC shows the sweet moment mum Calaya gives her son Moke – pronounced ‘Mo-key’ – on Sunday.
The western lowland gorilla gave birth at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in the US capital.
It was the first time in nine years a gorilla has given birth at the zoo with officials capturing the moment on film and sharing it on social media and their website.
The zoo wrote on its Twitter page: “We’re thrilled to share western lowland gorilla Calaya gave birth to a male at 6:25 p.m. 4/15. His name, Moke, means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language.
“Keepers report that Calaya has been caring for her infant & are optimistic he will thrive. #GorillaStory.”
Calaya, a 15-year-old gorilla, is seen cradling her baby and kissing the new-born several times before putting him down for a nap inside the enclosure.
Meredith Bastian, curator of primates, said in a statement to the National Zoo’s website: “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.
“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.”
Animal keeper Melba Brown said zoo officials are certain Calaya will be an excellent mum to her new son.
“We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke.
“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.
“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.”
The adorable baby gorilla was bred last summer by Calaya and 26-year-old Baraka.
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