6' tall baby on the way for Greenville Zoo - FOX Carolina 21

6' tall baby on the way for Greenville Zoo

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Autumn walks around her exhibit before going into labor. (Oct. 3, 2012/FOX Carolina) Autumn walks around her exhibit before going into labor. (Oct. 3, 2012/FOX Carolina)

A Greenville mother is ready to give birth to her 6' tall, 150-pound baby any day - a baby giraffe that is.

The Greenville Zoo's Masai giraffe, Autumn, is pregnant, and veterinarians say she should give birth sometime soon. She began having contractions on Wednesday.

Autumn's calf will be the zoo's first baby giraffe. She is on a breeding loan from the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and was paired with the zoo's male giraffe, 7-year-old Walter, who is from the San Diego Zoo.

Giraffes' gestational periods are 15 months long. The zoo announced her pregnancy in early June when she began to significantly show.

SLIDESHOW: Zoo officials await calf's birth

"The hope is that Autumn is on exhibit for the birth, which will allow her the space to pace and also a suitable surface for giving birth," said Jeff Bullock, a zoo administrator. "Being born on exhibit will give the newborn space to find its legs and hopefully be up and walking soon after being born."

Giraffes give birth while standing, and the baby is born hooves-first. A newborn calf can weigh between 120 and 150 pounds and stand 6 feet tall at birth.

Newborns will usually take its first steps within an hour of its birth, and giraffes are one of the few animals born with horns on their heads.

Lately, zoo officials said Autumn has been separating herself from Walter as she prepares for delivery and the first few weeks when Walter will be kept away from her and the calf.

The separation will allow time for Autumn and the calf to bond without interruption from Walter, and give it time for to gain the strength to endure the curiosity of his father.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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