Moke, an 11-month-old western lowland gorilla, is back to his young self at the National Zoo, after recovering from a fractured left thighbone.
Moke fractured his femur in February. Zoo officials weren’t exactly sure how he injured himself but suspected he may have landed wrong during one of his many jumps. (He has been labeled a bit of a daredevil by zookeepers.)
The keepers noticed something was wrong when he stopped placing weight on it. Zoo experts examined Moke (pronounced “mo-KEY”) and determined that, although there was a fracture, it was best to let the leg heal naturally and that more drastic measures, such as surgery, were not necessary.
The fracture was “not significantly displaced,” and the two pieces were not separate from each other, experts said at the time of his injury.
On Friday, zoo officials said in a statement that Moke was basically back to well, acting like a healthy gorilla.
“Both his demeanor and his mobility indicate that he has made a full recovery,” the statement said. Moke has been mischievous and playfully chasing after others. His first birthday is April 15.
Moke is one of six gorillas at the zoo. His name means “junior” or “little one” in the Lingala language of Africa. His father is Baraka, a 400-pound, 26-year-old silverback, and his mother is Calaya, 15. His parents have been a couple since she came to the zoo in 2015.
Other than his broken leg, he has hit all the major milestones of being an infant. He is growing, sprouting more hair and teeth and, well, being a gorilla.
The fracture required Moke to be separated from the rest of the gorilla troop, especially so he could not “roughhouse with his favorite playmate, another gorilla — 10-year-old Kibibi.”
Zoo officials said they had “opened the ‘howdy’ door” between the gorillas late last month and gave the animals “full physical access to each other once again.”
The zoo put out a video with the headline, “#GorillaStory: The Troop is Back Together!”
There was much celebration over the reunion, the zoo said; there was even popcorn to forage for and coconuts to crack open. The gorillas made noises of excitement — what zoo experts call “pleasure rumbles or positive vocalization” for a few hours. Then they “calmed down and seemed relieved and content to be back together.”