Facebook has been buzzing lately with people exclaiming,”April the Giraffe is in labor! Watch the livestream!” There has been speculation about whether it’s a hoax because this has been going on for nearly two weeks and April is still
in labor pregnant (thanks to a reader for correcting my incorrect wording here). It doesn’t help that there have been several fake videos floating around, along with links that take you to bogus sites that have nothing to do with giraffes. Further complicating matters, the livestream video was briefly removed from YouTube after animal rights activists reportedly labeled it as sexually explicit. My curiosity finally got the best of me tonight and I decided to get to the bottom of this story. Here’s what I learned:
The first and most important thing to know is that poor April is still in
labor pregnant. The 15-year-old mama giraffe is a resident of Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., and her keepers are awaiting the delivery of April’s fourth calf. The father of the calf is Oliver. He’s five years old and a first-time father, and based on calculations of when they the two mated, April’s due date was set for sometime in January or February.
What’s taking so long? Well, for starters, giraffes are
in labor pregnant for “around” fifteen months. Their gestation period can be anywhere from 400-460 days, which explains why April’s keepers are having a hard time pinpointing the exact date she’ll deliver. In the animal kingdom, giraffes are near the top of the pack as far as gestational length goes. Only rhinos (450 days), walruses (15-16 months), whales (some up to 19 months), and elephants (two years!) are pregnant longer. (Hopefully, this will encourage some of you mamas with bulging bellies to keep going for a few more weeks…but sorry, no word on whether giraffes have to deal with heartburn or swollen ankles.)
The calf, when it’s finally born, will weigh around 150 lbs. (Again, moms, it’s always good to get a little perspective, isn’t it?) Viewers of the livecam can look for the front hooves to present first, followed by the snout. According to the zoo, once the calf is born, keepers will go in to clean the pen and give April some treats while they check on the baby. Oliver will not be allowed in to see his offspring because “He’s a bull — and a bull is a bull is a bull!” said the zoo. “Bulls…only really care about two things — fighting and the unmentionable.”
If all goes as planned, keepers will leave mom and baby alone for some extended bonding time.
“Mom will naturally raise the calf,” the zoo said. Weaning could take between 6-10 months, maybe longer. “We will not rush this process.”
In addition to the giraffe cam, which has racked up more than 30 million views so far, April’s keepers have been posting daily updates about the state of her belly on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Thursday evening they wrote:
April is – without question – growing! Keepers were able to get hands on the belly and make “contact” with baby! April appears a little more on edge – but only in the sense of not being as “lovey” as usual.
On Friday morning they noted:
April changed some of her behaviors overnight. Moving in different patterns, choosing new spots to stand and sleep, and even going off her usual sleep routine (recognizable to our loyal viewers). Why? Could be many reasons. Continued increase in belly movements. Keeper reports this morning suggest all observed physical signs remain unchanged and on the positive.
They also warned that many fake YouTube pages and chats are popping up, attempting to cash in on April’s popularity. “All things April that are official and sanctioned by Animal Adventure are located on www.ApriltheGiraffe.com,” they wrote.
By Friday evening there hadn’t been “much change” to report. “Continued belly movements! Back end remains quite large with visibly pink coloring. No significant reports from care staff or vet.” Despite the cold weather in New York, April and Oliver were able to enjoy “a lot of extra attention today with many media guests – which always means treats! New York City media outlets; NBC and The NY Times.” Just what every mom dreams of when she’s about to deliver!
Saturday morning update: “Pregnancy belly has never looked so good! Move over Beyonce — there is a new bump in town!”
3/4 Morning UpdatePregnancy belly has never looked so good! Move over Beyonce — there is a new bump in…
They added that April had a good night but was very active. “A few times, she appeared to perhaps contract, but we cannot confirm that was the true reasoning. We must remember a 6′ 150# baby is performing acrobatic routines inside! Keepers report she has a large appetite this morning, and is enjoying morning treats.” Due to the cold temperatures, snow, ice, and wind, April and Oliver were kept inside on Saturday. “Remember – inside days mean extra love and treats and enrichment to keep everyone happy!”
The big event could happen at any moment. Or it could be a few more weeks. Stay tuned to the giraffe cam below and the zoo’s Facebook page for updates.
NOTE: The livestream was removed at the request of Animal Adventure Park. You can access it via the April the Giraffe website.