This newborn’s ape-solutely adorable.
A Washington, DC, zoo welcomed a newborn western lowland gorilla Saturday — an exciting addition to the critically endangered species.
Zoologists at the Smithsonianâs National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute found the unnamed baby cradled inside 20-year-old mother Calaya’s arms shortly after 6 a.m., meaning it was born sometime in the night, the zoo announced.
âWe are overjoyed to welcome a new infant to our western lowland gorilla troop,â Becky Malinsky, curator of primates, said in a statement.
The gender of the newborn has not yet been discovered — zoo staff is leaving several days of distance between themselves and the mother-child pair in order to let them bond.
The baby is the second born to Calaya and 31-year-old father Baraka. The pair welcomed Moke in 2018 per a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariumsâ Species Survival Plan in an effort to strengthen the species’ deteriorating population.
The newest member of the clan — which zoologists are “cautiously optimistic” will survive — was also born following the same guidelines.
âCalaya 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,” Malinsky said. “Itâs been wonderful seeing her nurturing and playful side come out.”
Zoologists are especially looking forward to how Moke, the youngest of the troop, will interact with his newborn sibling.
Western lowland gorillas are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered” thanks to habitat loss throughout the forests of Africa, disease and poaching.
Scientists estimate that in the past 20 to 25 years, the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased by 60% with about one-third of the total population found in protected areas affected by the Ebola virus in the last 15 years, the National Zoo said.
More than 360,000 gorillas still inhabit the forests of Western Equatorial Africa, but 80% of those gorillas live outside of protected habitats.
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