If a lonely Valentine’s Day has you doubting the power of dating apps, get ready to believe again.
Calaya and Baraka met just three years ago thanks to a matching algorithm. Since then, the two strangers went from potential dates, to lovers, and finally, to expectant parents — of a baby gorilla.
Baraka and Calaya are western lowland gorillas, residents of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. Their, erm, fruitful partnership, only got underway thanks to a dating algorithm, made specially for gorillas.
As reported in the New Yorker on Monday, the Smithsonian’s “Gorilla Matchmaking” program is responsible for the union of Baraka and Calaya. The Smithsonian brought Calaya to meet Baraka back in February 2015 (quite the Valentine’s Day present), thanks to a match determined by a genetic and personality algorithmic compatibility ranking. The initial “Gorilla Matchmaking” technology was designed as part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan back in the ’80s, and they’ve continued to refine the algorithm to promote gorilla breeding and species health ever since.
Apparently, Calaya and Baraka earned the highest compatibility score possible. Not only was their pairing genetically attractive to zoo curators (since they have rare genetic make-ups, which promotes species diversity) — but their personalities were a match, too! Baraka is chill and family oriented, while Calaya is “confident, quirky, and creative.” Talk about a swipe right!
Now, three years later, Calaya is expecting a little one, due some time between mid March and early May, according to the Smithsonian. The zoo reports that she is adapting to the needs of motherhood through a training program involving a gorilla plush doll. And according to the New Yorker, Calaya and Baraka sometimes appear to be kissing.
And luckily, romance hasn’t gone by the wayside. The couple’s Valentine’s Day plans include foraging for Valentine’s Day-themed painted boxes which their keepers have placed throughout their habitat. The boxes are filled with hay, and the gorilla equivalent of Valentine’s Day Chocolate: their favorite treats, popcorn and nuts.
Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all. Maybe don’t lose faith in those dating apps just yet.