Heartwarming moment mother gorilla gently kisses newborn baby at US zoo

This incredible footage shows the first interaction between a mother gorilla and her newborn baby at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in the US.

First-time mum Calaya gave birth to the baby boy, named Moke, at 6.25pm on April 15.

In the clip, the new mother is seen gently kissing the infant – a western lowland gorilla – just moments after he was born.

The baby’s name means “junior” or “little one” in the language Lingala, staff at the zoo and conservation biology centre said.

The infant is the first baby gorilla to be born in the zoo in nine years (Smithsonian’s National Zoo)

In a statement, the zoo staff added that they have observed Calaya nursing the infant, and are “cautiously optimistic that he will survive”.

The Great Ape House at the zoo is closed to allow the mother a quiet space to bond with her baby, which is the first to be born at the zoo in nine years, without interference.

The mother and baby have been left to bond without interference

Calaya, 15, and the baby’s 26-year-old father Baraka bred last summer after a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP).

“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,” said Meredith Bastian, curator of primates at the Smithsonian.

Moke‘ means ‘junior’ or ‘little one’ in the language Lingala

Ms Bastian added: “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.”

Native to Africa, western lowland gorillas live in the forests of Gabon, Central Africa Republic, Cameroon, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Congo.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered due to disease and poaching.

Scientists estimate that in the past 20 to 25 years, the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased by 60 percent.

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