April, a giraffe who became an internet sensation after her pregnancy was livestreamed from the rural New York hamlet where she lives, has finally given birth, ending months of speculation, anticipation and excitement for her online audience.
The livestream, which the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., first posted over the winter with news that April would soon give birth, was uneventful much of the time. April was often seen simply pacing around her pen with no signs of impending labor, but viewers continued to tune in nonetheless.
At its peak, the stream drew nearly five million viewers a day and a flood of media coverage and attention for Harpursville, which is about three hours northwest of New York City. The BBC called the calf’s arrival the most-anticipated birth since the arrival of Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, in 2013.
April’s handlers initially predicted that the birth would come between mid-January and mid-February, but the pregnancy stretched on. Perhaps they had miscalculated the date of conception. (A giraffe’s gestation period is typically 15 months.) Some viewers grew frustrated, and attention began to wane. Others theorized that April might not be pregnant at all.
But as she paced in her pen on Saturday, two hooves began to appear. After a few hours, the newly born giraffe was lying on the floor of the pen, glancing around, looking as confused and bewildered as any newborn. The calf tried to stand a few times but was unable. After an hour, it was on its feet, walking gingerly around the pen. It was not immediately known whether the calf was male or female.
Social media bubbled with cheers. “This is the best day ever,” wrote one person. “Congrats April the Giraffe,” wrote another, “You did it.”
The amount of attention from around the world on April and her home prompted hopes that the area where she lives, a former manufacturing region known as the Southern Tier that has struggled in recent years, would get an economic boost. The livestream drew sponsorship from Toys “R” Us, whose mascot is a giraffe.
Animal Adventure Park, which covers about 20 acres, will reopen for the season in May with many new features. It is unclear whether the attention on April would actually cause attendance to increase substantially.
In the meantime, there will be a contest to name the calf, and April will begin to raise it, weaning it for six to 10 months, according to the park. Eventually, the baby giraffe, April’s fourth, will be moved to another facility.
The father, Oliver, is not expected to be in the picture much.
“Bulls (male giraffes) only really care about two things,” the park notes, “fighting and the unmentionable.”