April, a pregnant giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York whose impending labor became an internet sensation, was expected to give birth over the weekend—but the mom-to-be seems to be in no rush to deliver, even as a quarter million people tune in to her livestream.
“Many of you may have witnessed what appeared to be ‘pushing’ contractions last night,” park staff wrote in a Monday morning Facebook update regarding April’s condition. “Let’s see if April’s plan is to break up your work week!”
Park representatives also said they’d provide a picture of April’s “current mammary developments” in the post’s comments. The picture has not yet been posted.
The 15-year-old giraffe’s pregnancy became an unexpected source of controversy: the livestream, which began in February, was briefly removed from YouTube due to nudity and sexual content.
“There are some people who fundamentally disagree with what we do here, keeping animals in captivity,” Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch said Friday on Good Morning America. “So their tool to take down our cam, to punish us or take it off air, was to report it to YouTube and say it had sexually explicit content.”
After about an hour and a half offline, Patch said, the stream was restored “due to popular demand.” The stream has been sponsored by Toys “R” Us, whose mascot is a cartoon giraffe named Geoffrey, since March 22 and was previously sponsored by animal feed company Mazuri.
“Like millions of people around the world, we are eagerly anticipating the birth of April’s baby,” Toys “R” Us spokesperson Candace Disler told the Daily Beast via email. “The teams at Toys“R”Us and Babies”R”Us, including our own giraffe – Geoffrey – are thrilled to be supporting the Animal Adventure Park and its efforts around worldwide giraffe conservation. April’s baby is something we can all embrace!”
Animal Adventure Park launched a GoFundMe page for April in February—the funds will be used to “offset” the costs of caring for April, her calf, and her mate Oliver, as well as for renovating their pen and installing a permanent Giraffe Cam, the park said on its GoFundMe page. The fundraiser has more than doubled its original $50,000 goal.
As of Monday afternoon, more than 220,000 people around the world were watching the live Giraffe Cam, eagerly expecting the moment April’s calf enters the world.
The park also announced on Monday that they’d be announcing the calf’s gender via their text alert program, which costs $4.99. The text alert will be sent “hours in advance of the media press releases,” a park spokesperson wrote on Facebook. The park also sells giraffe emoji and April-branded merchandise, like T-shirts and sweatshirts.
Both April and Oliver are reticulated giraffes, according to Animal Adventure Park. Reticulated giraffes are native to northeast Africa and have few natural predators. Although adult giraffes are rarely attacked by predators, calves are often preyed upon by lions, leopards, and hyenas, and less than half of giraffe calves reach adulthood in the wild, according to the World Animal Foundation.
“The neat thing about giraffe labor is that they instinctively hide the labor signs,” Patch said on Good Morning America. “In the wild, if they’re making it clear that they’re in labor, every hyena and lion would sit tight and wait for mom to become vulnerable.”
Although giraffes are not a threatened or endangered species, experts warn that habitat loss from agriculture, as well as hunting, are a threat to wild giraffe populations.
The average giraffe pregnancy lasts around 15 months—April is between 15 and 16 months pregnant, according to the park, meaning she’s a bit past her due date.
This will be April’s fourth calf, the park said, and the first for her mate, Oliver, who is five years old. The calf will come out hooves first—zookeepers won’t officially announce April is in labor until the hooves begin to show—and will weigh between 100 and 150 pounds and stand about 6 feet tall, according to Animal Planet. The full birth will last “thirty to sixty minutes,” Patch said on Friday.
April will raise her calf until it’s old enough to be weaned; after the weaning period, the calf will be sent to another facility in order to prevent inbreeding, park representatives said.
Meanwhile, at a zoo in Denver, a giraffe gave “surprise” birth to a calf on February 28—the mother had reportedly been on birth control and had resisted veterinarians’ attempts to perform an ultrasound.