ABILENE, TX - (KFDA) - The Abilene Zoo has welcomed a baby giraffe into the world on Saturday, and he has officially passed his first set of exams.
Zoo officials say the calf is thriving, while first-time mom, Punk, has taken to her role like a pro.
Zoo employees are keeping a close eye on the pair as they bond, knowing that the first weeks are a challenging time for any newborn, and so far, they like what they see.
"He's a curious, rambunctious boy and a healthy eater," said Dr. Stephanie Carle, the zoo's tired veterinarian. "He nurses with such gusto that everyone can hear him slurping and suckling. It's music to our ears."
The young male weighed in at 120 pounds and 68 inches tall and will grow quickly. His newborn medical exam this week indicates that he is healthy with no abnormalities.
"We ran tests on his blood to ensure that he is getting adequate colostrum from his mother's milk," Carle said. "We checked it all -- eyes, ears, mouth, his heart and lungs, as well as his digestive tract. Everything is functioning as it should."
While the newborn is sticking close to his attentive mother, he also is slowly being introduced to the other animals in the herd, which includes three other adult females, father Mesi, and an 8-month-old male named Kito.
Animal staff is working to baby proof the Giraffe Safari yard to prepare for his public debut in the upcoming weeks.
The zoo staff plans to name the calf rather than invite the public to christen the young bull.
Since he is genetically valuable and an approved breeding animal for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plans, the animal likely will join a giraffe herd at another AZA facility when he hits puberty.
If you would like to see the giraffe the zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Last admittance is 4 p.m.
Tickets are $7 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 3-12, $6 for seniors aged 60 and older. Members are admitted free.
For more information visit their website or give them a call 325-676-6085