Former Seattle gorilla gives birth to baby boy

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The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., welcomed a baby gorilla Sunday - its first gorilla born at the zoo in nine years.

Keepers trained Calaya to take voluntary ultrasound so they could monitor Moke's fetal growth. Zoo officials said his name means "little one" or "junior" in Lingala, a Bantu language spoken in certain areas of the Congo.

Meredith Bastian, curator of primates at the zoo, said the birth holds special significance to both their zoo family and to the critically endangered species as a whole.

'Doing so required great patience and dedication on the part of my team, and I am very proud of them and Calaya'.

As part of the preparation for all possible scenarios, staff have been acclimating Calaya to the experiences of motherhood to enhance the likelihood she will care for her infant.

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The endangered lowland gorilla species lost about 60 percent of its population over the past two and a half decades for several reasons including poaching and disease. The Great Ape House is closed to give Calaya quiet time to bond with her baby. However, Calaya and Moke will be on exhibit if the youngster continues to thrive.

Staff taught Calaya breastfeeding techniques while she was pregnant.

The footage shows Calaya cradling her newborn shortly after giving birth - while also cleaning placenta from his head - in what appears to be a number of lovable kisses.

Because they live deep in remote and heavily forested areas, it is hard to estimate the total numbers of gorillas in the wild.

Calaya is a 15-year-old gorilla while Moke's father is a 26-year-old called Baraka. Animal keeper Melba Brown noticed that Calaya learned best by watching the other gorillas train and repeating those actions. I am excited to see how he will fit into the group dynamic.

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