#GorillaStory: Moke the Explorer

This update was written by primate keeper Matt Spence.

Today, Moke turns two months old! The process of watching our western lowland gorilla infant grow has been extraordinary, and our animal care team feels very fortunate that we are able to share the details of Moke’s growth and development with Zoo fans all over the world.

It is amazing how quickly time has gone by. In recent weeks, we have watched his personality develop. He is just as curious as ever, but now he is becoming bolder and more interested in those around him.

During training sessions with his mom, Calaya, Moke watches our interactions closely. On occasion, he will reach through the mesh to touch keepers’ hands or investigate the food rewards mom is receiving. While Calaya is training, Moke will either sit on the ground near her legs or stand, holding on to her for balance. At this age, he is interested in playing and exploring as much as mom will allow.

Since our last #GorillaStory update, Moke has been able to taste two new foods—lettuce and primate chow—without interference from Calaya. He does not eat the food; rather, he will mouth it or take a quick taste before spitting it out. He still receives all of his nutrients exclusively from mom’s milk and won’t begin ingesting new foods for a few months.

Moke gets stronger every day. When Calaya walks or runs through the exhibit, she no longer needs to keep a hand on him—he hangs on tight, all on his own! Moke is not quite at the point where he can support himself on all fours, but we expect that day is coming soon. During one training session, he latched onto the mesh and would not let go. It took a bit of force for Calaya to remove him from that spot.