It all started way back in mid-February. A small zoo in upstate New York decided to try out the "go live" feature on Facebook to try and generate interest in the zoo during the off-season. "Pregnant giraffe to give birth live any minute!" They said. And, to their fascination, thousands of people tuned in, spreading and sharing the live feed with friends.
Here are some things to know: The Pregnant giraffe mamma is named April, she is 15 years old and this is her fourth calf. The daddy's name is Oliver, he is five years old and this is his first calf. In the wild, giraffes live to be about 15, but in zoos, they can live upward of 20 years. April has never had an unhealthy calf. When baby comes, he will be six feet tall and over 150 lbs (the height and weight of a full grown man!). Giraffes have to give birth standing up, if they sit or lie down, it could hurt the calf. They come front hooves first, then head, then neck, body, back legs in a six foot drop to the ground. It's a big deal in conservation whenever a baby giraffe is born, as giraffes are endangered due to habitat loss and illegal over-hunting, in fact, there are more elephants in the world than there are giraffes. Giraffes only need about two hours of sleep a day, to keep them vigilant of predators. They can also run around 35 miles per hour.
Everyone was ready to be there for April the Giraffe when she had the baby live in front of thousands!
But then, drama started. An unknown account saw the live feed on YouTube, and flagged it for inappropriate nudity, forcing YouTube to take down the link. "Really?" Everyone thought as one. "Nudity? It's a giraffe!" After a few days of debate, the link was back up and people were laughing about it in the live stream comments. IS there anything inappropriate about an animal in a zoo having a baby?
So, April continued pacing her pen with a swollen belly, and the scandal only lead more people to watch the feed. But that's when the second strike of drama hit: someone online had found a video of a DIFFERENT giraffe giving birth at a separate zoo, and they put it up on YouTube advertising that it was April. They included a link to their own personal gofundme account, claiming it would help the zoo and the giraffe family. What a scandal!
Here was April's response:
The link was taken down shortly after it was put up, but not before a couple hundred people had fallen for the grift. The Animal Adventure Park Zoo (Where April lives) has since then been vigilant about verifying the proper channels, and encouraging fans to watch out for more fake links, and check AAPZ every morning and afternoon for April updates. They also set up Aprilthegiraffe.com, where there is a link to a YouTube live stream as well as links to donate, sponsor a giraffe, and buy official April apparel!
So, again we all sat, joined by more and more people as time went on. Soon February became March, and still no baby. "Be patient," AAP advised, "Giraffes hide signs of labor to trick predators into leaving the herd alone. It could happen any day now!"
Then, more drama, and this one is my favorite. On Facebook, people can chat while they watch the live video, as with any video on FB. And one unknown soul asked if April.... was going to lay an egg.
And the Egg wars began.
The April Watch (April's biggest fans) soon split into four factions:
1) The innocent and unaware: Is she really going to lay an egg??
2) The trolls (soon dubbed #teamegg): Ah yes, it is said that the eggshell of a newly hatched giraffe is thick enough to use as a helmet. The mother will sit on the egg for about 21 days before baby hatches.
3) How Dare You (ranging from passive agressive to agressice): She is NOT going to lay an EGG!! She is a MAMMAL!!
4) The confused: Why is everyone talking about eggs
And that's how the Egg War of 2017 started. Friends turned on friends, brother on brother. Even when the feed ended and another news station started showing April live, the #team egg would return. But were they malicious? No. They were having fun so that they could prank people (her name is April after all, April fools!) and make egg puns. And yet, people verbal attacked them for spreading the misinformation. #Team egg retaliated by selling "#teamegg" T-shirts online, where they would send profits to April through the AAP. Here are some more golden moments from the feed:
But April still had thousands of new fans every day, sometimes reaching up to 100k people watching her pace at night in anticipation. As people got more invested, they started watching April during every free moment, becoming more enthralled wit the life of the gentle giant. We watched her bond with her two caretakers, Alyssa and Cory, as they gave her some of her favorite treats: romaine lettuce and carrots. Every once in a while, there would be a live interview where various caretakers and vets from AAP would answer questions about April, Oliver, and the expected delivery date.
At one point they decided to just ask April when she wanted to have the baby. Giraffe translators are still working on her response:
The April watch continued again. So much drama over a giraffe baby!
Perhaps she would have a St. Patrick's day baby? Alas, March soon turned to April. Many wondered if April would have an April fools baby--to their disappointment, she just kept pacing and swishing that tail. Some began to wonder if she was faking the pregnancy after waiting two long months.
This morning, around 9:30 EST, April 15, 2017, our watch came to a climax as, finally, hooves appeared out her back end! As the news spread, more people logged on. Could it be? Finally a baby giraffe?
By 10:00, April quickly delivered a healthy baby boy (not an egg)! Congratulations, April and Oliver! The baby will be named based on an online contest at nameaprilscalf.com and will be announced in a few days. In the meantime, rough Oliver will keep his distance and the vet assures us that mom and baby are a-okay!
With our much-anticipated baby now taking his first wobbly steps, many feel that our watch is far from over. In fact, more people than ever are trying to catch a glimpse of the adorable noodle-legged baby as he tugs behind mamma, sniffs dad, and steadily nurses.
Here's April scrupulously cleaning up baby as he tries to stand up by leaning against mom:
Once the baby is fully weaned off April's milk, he will be transported to another location for giraffe conservation, in order to avoid inbreeding as he grows older. In the meantime, everyone is happy to see that the Giraffe family is doing well at Animal Adventure Park!