In the world of modern romance, it seems online dating apps are all but inescapable. Even if you're a western lowland gorilla, living at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, computers have become an integral part of finding a partner. Don't believe me? Just ask Baraka and Calaya, two such apes who met in 2015 thanks to a dating algorithm made specifically for their species.
The "Gorilla Matchmaking" program was created by the Smithsonian in the 80's as one aspect of their "Gorilla Species Survival Plan." Since then, however, the Smithsonian's zoological cupids have continued to perfect their algorithm so each ape in their care can find someone who not only compliments their personality, but also provides the ideal genetic partner for breeding. Adorable!
Baraka and Calaya were introduced after the Gorilla dating algorithm told zookeepers they'd be an ideal pair - in fact, they achieved a perfect score for compatibility. Genetically, the pair bring two unique strands of Gorilla DNA to the table, which should help keep their species diverse in captivity (something zoos always have to think about). As if that wasn't enough reason to go out for coffee and see where this leads, the two gorillas were also matched due to their personalities, according to the New Yorker:
Baraka is chill and family oriented, while Calaya is "confident, quirky, and creative."
Dating site for Gorillas: 'Baraka and Calaya were a good match because he is laid-back and attentive to his troop, the name for a gorilla family. She is confident, quirky, and creative, Malinsky, the curator at the National Zoo, told me'. Cracking up.https://t.co/LgqBsgE4CT— Ella Al-Shamahi (@LittleMsFossil) February 14, 2018
One difference between the gorilla dating app and human ones like Tindr and Bumble seems to be its success rate. Since being introduced in 2015, Baraka and Calaya have settled down into a comfortable, long-term relationship. They sometimes even appear to be kissing in their enclosure (saucy)! In 2017, Zookeepers were thrilled to announce the pair were making good on their genetic compatability as well: Calaya is expecting a baby!
Calaya and Baraka spent their Valentine's day on a romantic date: hunting for heart-shape boxes hidden around their enclosure. The boxes were filled with Gorilla delicacies like hay, popcorn, and nuts. All-in-all, it was another very successful date for the happy couple, leading many to wonder: can we please improve some of our human dating algorithms? It sounds like the Gorilla program is doing something right.