Hearts everywhere are captured as they watch footage of Calaya, a western lowland gorilla, kissing her newborn baby, Moke.
Although Calaya is 15-years-old, Moke is her first baby, born at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C.. Inexperienced as she was, she knew just what to do when she met her baby for the first time, gently cradling Moke and laying kisses all over his face.
I couldn’t help but think that she was behaving in exactly the same way as I did when my babies were born. I remember having all sorts of things smeared all over my face from kissing them upon meeting them for the first time. It’s instinct; it’s love. You can see the tunnel vision this mother is experiencing as she holds her baby. Every mom knows it well.
Moke, whose name means “little one” or “junior” in Lingala, a language spoken in parts of Congo, is the first western lowland gorilla born to the National Zoo in nine years. According to the Washington Post, his father, Baraka, was able to watch the birth, and let out a “pleasure rumble” once Moke came into the world. Wouldn’t that have been a sight to see?
Western lowland gorillas are a critically endangered species, so Moke’s birth is a big win. Scientists estimate that the number of wild western lowland gorillas has decreased about 60 percent in the last 20 years. Zookeepers are cautiously optimistic that he will thrive, and are keeping a close eye on him, while his loving mother Calaya performs her motherly duties: nursing, holding, and bonding with her baby. Before he was born, experts were sure to show Calaya lots of pictures of mothers and babies, and even gave her a plush baby gorilla toy, demonstrating to her how to nurse!
Sometimes the most basic act of love, whether it be from man or beast, can impact us for a long time. We’ll be rooting for Calaya and baby Moke!
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.