Say Awww: Newborn Gorilla’s Baby Photos

D.C. has a tiny new arrival! A newborn gorilla made his arrival Sunday, the Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced. Calaya, one of the zoo's western lowland gorillas, gave birth to a boy at 6:25 p.m. Sunday, zoo officials announced Monday morning.

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Smithsonian's National Zoo
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
New mom Calaya has been taking care of her newborn, and keepers said they're optimistic he will thrive.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
Meredith Bastian, curator of primates at the zoo's Conservation Biology Institute called the gorilla's birth — the first in nine years — "very special and significant, not only to our zoo family but also to this critically endangered species as a whole." The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
Calaya, a first-time mom, was expected to give birth any time from early April to early May, the zoo previously said. She had been resting more during the day, and keepers had given her with extra fleece blankets. As they awaited the birth, keepers maintained the zoo's six gorillas' normal routines as much as they could.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
In fall 2017, keepers confirmed Calaya's pregnancy using a common human pregnancy test. Keepers trained her to participate in ultrasounds and were able to monitor fetal development.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
Keeper Melba Brown helped acclimate Calaya to motherhood by showing her photos of mother gorillas and giving her a plush gorilla toy to touch and kiss. Brown also trained her to present her chest so keepers could place the toy gorilla to her breast to "nurse," the zoo said.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
The Great Ape House was closed Monday. Calaya and little Moke will be on exhibit when it reopens, but the new mom will be able to choose which rooms to spend time in, and some are out of public view, the zoo said.
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Smithsonian's National Zoo
"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," said Brown in a release from the zoo Monday. "We will provide support to her if need be, but I have every confidence that Calaya will be a great mom to Moke."
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