It Looks Like April the Giraffe Is in Labor Right Now [Update: False Alarm]
Could the wait finally be over for those of us who have been
obsessively faithfully watching the giraffe cam hoping to see the moment when April's calf is born?
Here's what we know:
April's keepers at Animal Adventure Park updated the zoo's Facebook page on Monday night and indicated that something is happening:
As I'm writing this (at 1:56 a.m. Eastern) around 84,000 people are tuned in to watch the livestream (in the middle of the night!) because they clearly are expecting—or at least hoping—to see a baby giraffe tonight.
I've been watching for around two hours and April's behavior seems different to me. Her leg movements are more awkward than normal and she's moving about her enclosure more than she usually does at night. In addition, I saw what looked to me like a very powerful contraction about 30 minutes ago. When I say powerful, I mean that if a human woman had that kind of contraction it would blow her baby into next week. I honestly don't know how April stayed on her feet for that. Those giraffe mamas are mighty strong! April is going to need every bit of that strength to birth her 150-pound calf (gender TBT). If you watch closely you can see April's abdomen moving. For the most part she doesn't look uncomfortable, but since I started watching, she's tried to lie down a few times only to quickly get back up. Also, her tail is noticeably extended at times, the way an animal does when it's having a bowel movement—or giving birth!
According to Animal Planet, here's what we should expect:
Giraffes give birth while standing up so a calf enters the world from quite a height. They fall 6 feet to the ground with hooves and head first. The fall may seem like an abrupt entrance into the world, but it effectively breaks the amniotic sac, severs the umbilical cord, and most importantly encourages the calf to take its first breaths. After the calf drops to the ground, the mother will begin to clean it off, and after a few minutes, the calf will attempt its first steps.
Normally, within 30 minutes the calf will be able to stand, and soon after it will begin to nurse. Keepers at Animal Adventure Park have said that they will go in and do a quick check on the baby and then let April take it from there.
For now, we don't know for sure whether tonight is the night, but I wouldn't recommend going to bed because, really, how often do you get to watch the birth of a giraffe live on your computer? Trust me, you'll kick yourself if you miss this just because you decided to get some shut-eye.
Update 2:47 a.m. EST: I'm pretty convinced it's happening tonight. April is pacing almost constantly now with her tail extended. There will be no sleep in this house until I see that calf! This rivals a royal wedding for me!
Update 5:49 a.m. EST: No sign of the baby yet. April has been mostly pacing and standing around with a few breaks to rest throughout the night. Several times she tried (and failed) to lie down. Eventually, she succeeded and got about ten minutes of sleep before climbing to her feet again and resuming her pacing and standing. I've seen several more powerful contractions, the most recent just a few minutes ago when April had two quick, hard contractions just seconds apart. That can't have felt good.
Update 4:05 p.m. EST Tuesday: It looks like this was a false alarm, folks. The zoo noted in the morning update that there was some unusual behavior overnight, but still no baby.