When Moja the gorilla was born on Dec. 13, 2004, to her mother Kijivu and her father Richard, she became an instant celebrity in the Czech Republic.
The Prague Zoo staff had a bit of a scare when Kijivu refused to take care of her baby on the first day, but by the second day, Kijivu managed to offer breast milk to her young one and even showed her baby off to her breeders.
Moja immediately became a favorite of the public and other gorillas in her pavilion. In a sign of just how big Moja was in the Czech Republic, former First Lady Dagmar Havlová even became her godmother.
At first, the pavilion with the newborn Moja was closed to leave the gorillas in peace, and it was only possible to peek through a glass door. Even so, long lines began forming at the door, and despite the cold weather, people waited to see Moja and her family. Later, visitors were allowed to enter the pavilion and watch Moja play and interact with children through the glass.
From the beginning, the Prague Zoo knew that it could not keep Moja because of the risk of her mating with her father Richard. If they wanted to keep Moja there, she would have to be given contraception, which can cause health issues. Zookeepers also wished to emulate what actually happens in nature, where it is customary for roughly six-year-old females to look for another group of gorillas.
By the time Moja reached that age, there were more than 33 male gorillas in Europe, with which she could produce the next generation.
Eventually, Moja moved to the Cabárceno Natural Park in Spain, where the male Nicky lived. She arrived in the Spanish park at the end of November 2011. Within a year, it was clear that Moja was pregnant.
Her first baby was born on April 16, 2013, and was named Duni, which means small in Swahili. Moja managed to take care of her offspring without the help of the breeders. She even helped raised another baby gorilla in Cabárceno with another gorilla named Chelewa who has a similarly old baby.
Both females were able to help each other with the care of the offspring. Duni is Moja’s only child and she receives contraception at the moment. There are now enough baby gorillas in Europe and the capacity at zoo pavilions is limited.