Exactly one week after her keepers excitedly declared that the birth of her calf was imminent — after hundreds of thousands of people locked eyes on a live stream from her pen as naysayers theorized that it was all just a hoax — April the giraffe is still gestating.
The Animal Adventure Park in Upstate New York says April is continuing to feast after several days with little appetite, and that her “udders are full.” On Thursday night, the park said that April had “quite an appetite this evening! This is after a few days of picking at grain and hay. We have been told by other parks that mothers will sometimes feast just before the birth. Who knows and here is to hoping!”
But on Friday, seven days after Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch declared that “today is not the day to stop watching” because “we are there; we are close,” there were no guesstimates as to when the world’s most famous pregnant giraffe might actually go into labor.
April’s keepers have said she is not overdue to give birth. She continues to mill around her stall, apparently untroubled by what has become an Internet obsession.
On Friday, nearly 200,000 people were still watching her online.
Meanwhile, a rare Rothschild’s giraffe was born this week in Cheshire, England — a “precious moment” that was captured on CCTV, in what the Chester Zoo called “stunning” footage.
“Orla delivered her youngster smoothly following a four-hour labour; bringing an end to her 15-month pregnancy,” the Chester Zoo said.
April is between 15 and 16 months pregnant, Animal Adventure Park officials said. Female giraffes, called cows, have an average gestation period of about 15 months, or 453 to 464 days, according to Animal Planet.
The Memphis Zoo also welcomed a baby giraffe this week.
April obtained celebrity status in February when Animal Adventure Park launched a live stream on YouTube to let the world watch her give birth — and then someone reported the feed to YouTube for “sexually explicit” content with nudity.
YouTube briefly removed the live stream, then restored it — and a pregnant animal star was born.
“Initially, when the camera went live back in the beginning of February, it was getting some viewership,” park owner Patch said last week on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “But then all of the sudden, it got very, very popular.”
This will be April’s fourth calf, according to Animal Adventure Park.
“The neat thing about giraffe labor is that they instinctively hide the labor signs because in the wild, if they were making it very clear they were in labor, every hyena and lion would sit tight and wait for mom to become vulnerable,” Patch said.
Once in full labor, April could deliver in an hour or less, Patch said.
When the giraffe is ready to give birth, she will do so standing in her stall.
Her calf — which will weigh about 150 pounds and measure about 6 feet tall — will come out front hoofs first and begin walking 30 minutes to an hour later, according to Animal Planet.
As The Washington Post’s Samantha Schmidt reported last month, Patch has debunked several myths and addressed a number of concerns he has received from viewers. For example, he said on Facebook that many live-streamers have been worried about how long it takes for April to lower herself to sit down.
“Ladies out there,” he said. “If you’ve been nine months pregnant and you’ve had to bend over and tie your shoes, it’s hard.”
For the most committed viewers, just watching April can be something of a feat.
One viewer commented on the park’s Facebook page that she had been watching the giraffe for a whole week.
“I’m malnourished and dehydrated … my dog is turning fat because I just can’t stop watching and he’s being neglected,” the Facebook user posted. “I know April’s bowel habits, I know how many spots she has, I know her routine. Please April for my own sanity have this baby soon.”
But without a newborn giraffe, some comments have taken a darker turn, with more than a few people wondering whether the pregnancy is a hoax.
It didn’t help that word of an imminent delivery for a giraffe named April landed on April Fools’ Day Eve.
Last week, Patch, the park’s owner, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “April has progressed significantly overnight and, by all means, today is not the day to stop watching. We are there. We are close. All signs are go.”
“Conspiracy theory: What if the giraffe isn’t pregnant and it’s just an APRIL fools prank,” one naysayer wrote on Twitter.
“Does this ‘live stream’ of that giraffe have ads and stuff on it? We sure it’s not on a loop?” another said.
“Keep April and our team in your positive thoughts,” the park said on Facebook.
Importantly, it added: “Www.aprilthegiraffe.com is your source for all things April. We encourage you to shop NOW if you want April Gear before supply becomes backordered and the sale ends.”
The live feed briefly went offline Saturday morning, creating confusion among viewers and feeding into rumors that the pregnancy was an elaborate April Fools’ Day joke.
A website capitalized on the video outage with a fake April Fools’ Day story that claimed zoo officials admitted April was a male giraffe named Greg.
But the weekend passed with no hoax — and no baby.
Park staff have rolled out a text alert system to update fans on the birth, when it comes — so maybe you can stop dragging your iPad to the bathroom just in case you miss something.
This report has been updated numerous times, because April was going to give birth March 31, but didn’t, and now it’s April 7.