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Abilene Zoo visitors excited for giraffe pregnancy

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ABILENE, Texas - The Abilene Zoo is about to welcome a new addition to its family.

Tuesday, the zoo announced one of its giraffes, Punk, is pregnant.

Zoo visitors were excited to hear the news about the 16-year-old reticulated giraffe.

"I think it's so cool," Brandon Scott Thomas said while visiting the zoo with his family. "I love that we're gonna get that experience to see a little baby giraffe. That's just really neat."

"That's really cool," Ryley Lawler said. "I'm excited to see a little baby giraffe running around."

"I don't know how many we can put in here, but the more babies, the better," David Wier said. "They draw a big crowd."

It's Punk's first pregnancy, and she's expected to give birth sometime between July and November.

"We are very excited about this, very cautiously optimistic that things will all go very smoothly, and that Punk will have good motherly instincts and that she will raise that calf on her own," said Dr. Stephanie Carle, the veterinarian for the Abilene Zoo.

Gestation is 15 months for giraffes. Carle said they're weighing Punk and training her to let them perform ultrasound examinations on her stomach.

"[We're] just making sure that she's comfortable and she's happy," Carle said. "We want to make sure she's getting proper nutrition, so we may increase her grain or her hay. She's been eating like crazy up at that feeding deck -- she does enjoy the lettuce."

The father is 10-year-old Mesi, a Rothschild giraffe bull who joined the herd in 2014.

The last time a giraffe was born at the Abilene Zoo was in 2002.

A zoo spokesperson said the new baby calf will grow up here for at least several years, but might stay longer.

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