Calaya, a western lowland gorilla, is now on exhibit at the National Zoo. Keepers describe the 12-year-old female as confident and socially-savvy. She arrived at the National Zoo from the Woodland Park Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' western lowland gorilla Species Survival Plan. After arriving at the Zoo Feb. 25, Calaya spent 30 days in quarantine per standard procedure. For the past few days, keepers have been slowly introducing her to 22-year-old silverback male Baraka and females 32-year-old Mandara and 6-year-old Kibibi. Zoo visitors can see Calaya at the Great Ape House.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the western lowland gorilla as critically endangered. In human care, western lowland gorillas can live to be upwards of 50 years old. In its native tropical forests of Western and Central Africa, however, a gorilla's lifespan is about 35 years. Increased hunting, outbreaks of the Ebola virus and poorly regulated development projects threaten these great apes as well as their habitats.