A pregnant critically endangered western lowland gorilla gave birth at Smithsonian’s National Zoo on Saturday, May 27.
Born between 12 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. to 20-year-old mother Calaya and 31-year-old father Baraka, the first western lowland gorilla birth at the zoo in five years.
“We are overjoyed to welcome a new infant to our western lowland gorilla troop,” curator of primates Becky Malinsky said in a press release.
The National Zoo announced Calaya’s pregnancy on March 23, adding it would be her and Baraka’s second offspring. Calaya and Baraka welcomed their first offspring, a male gorilla named Moke, on April 15, 2018.
The birth marks an important milestone for the species as a whole, as scientific data estimates that the wild western lowland gorilla population has decreased by 60% over the past 20 to 25 years.
Calaya is currently closely tending to and nursing her infant. The zoo keepers are monitoring Calaya and the the newborn but allowing them to bond without human interference, so the baby’s sex is still unknown at this time.
The Great Ape House where the gorillas are housed has been and will remain closed until after Tuesday, May 30. Calaya and her baby will be on exhibit to visitors when it reopens, alongside the rest of the troop (the group of gorillas that live together).
“I encourage people to visit our gorilla family and be inspired to help save this critically endangered species in the wild,” Malinsky said.
For more information, please visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo website.