If you’re wondering why so many millions of people are glued to a live cam of a pregnant giraffe who has declined, for many weeks now, to give birth to the calf we are all expecting, just read some of the posts on April the Giraffe’s official Facebook page.
“My Alzheimer’s Mom and I watch her all day on youtube” wrote Tonia Reynolds Wilson, and “we suddenly have something to talk about! Every time Mom looks up at the TV it’s like she’s seeing April and Oliver for the first time … We haven’t talked this much in a year!!!”
Or read Yvonne Netherland Jeannette Cook’s comment: “I have quietly watched the feed from my home since all this started as a solace to come and place to find comfort after my husband’s death. This has been a wonderful thing for me to find peace and renewal with my grandchildren beside me at times …”
But what started as a generally joyful, whimsical experience, a “conflict free” activity, as one Nathalie Ethier wrote on March 7 on April’s Animal Adventure Park Facebook page, is now becoming just a little contentious.
It’s not that April the Giraffe has changed.
She hasn’t given birth, at least not as of early Monday morning. She’s still doing what she’s been doing for the past several weeks, moving occasionally, chewing occasionally, moving her right front leg, moving her left front leg, moving her hind legs, sticking her neck out through one opening or another, sticking out her tongue, which looks to be the length of a human arm, to grab goodies handed to her.
And millions of people are still watching day and night.
It’s the humans watching her who are changing.
There are now hundreds, maybe thousands of posts on the Facebook page defending the Harpursville, N.Y., park from naysayers, so many that the naysayers comments can barely be found.
Indeed, one is left to interpret the discontent about what the defenders are calling “negativity,” from comments like this, written by a person identified as Wendy Tremont Iacono:
It annoys me no end all the negative comments on here and on the live chats. I just want to scream … Stop accusing AAP of raising money on super chats and Go Fund Me for self gain …
And from a commenter identified as Cindy Grant:
“It is sad to see that what has brought so many people together is now becoming a forum to complain.”
The park does indeed now have a GoFundMe page. Sponsored by the “Animal Adventure Park team” it had raised more than $123,000 which the team says “used to offset their annual care at our facility.”
The campaign, the team notes, “is not to be confused with the baby giraffe naming campaign that will be launched post birth and gender reveal.”
But even the team sounds a little defensive about the GoFundMe campaign:
“Please note, we are a for profit organization, and your contributions are documented as gifts to the facility. The contribution is not tax deductible. We were hesitant to even launch this initiative, but the overwhelming generosity has demanded a platform in which to give. So, please, give away.”
It is also true that, as Fortune’s Jen Wieczner wrote on April 7, that a few weeks ago, “a third giraffe suddenly appeared on screen with April and her baby’s father, Oliver — only it wasn’t the one people were expecting. It was Geoffrey the Giraffe,” she wrote, “Toys ‘R’ Us’s smiling mascot, peeking out from the store’s logo at the bottom of the live feed.
“April the Giraffe has thus provided the retailer with a continuous marketing campaign that has lasted longer than anyone expected,” she wrote, “and reached a massive captive audience that rivals television’s most popular showings.”
How much Toys R Us is paying is unknown.
For good measure, you can also contribute to the cause at the “one and only official April the Giraffe gear site,” featuring such items as the “April in Waiting 3-pack prints” for $49.99 and the “I lived through giraffe-watch onesie” for $14.99.
The most recent source of strife on the April the Giraffe Facebook page is pretty clear, however.
Animal Adventure Park did something that created among the massive April the Giraffe community a socioeconomic-digital divide.
It offered “real-time alerts for your favorite giraffe family” on mobile devices. For $4.95 “subscribers will be the first to receive updates and will enjoy content that the general viewing audience does not have access to.”
The creation of an airline-style first-class, coach class drew quite a reaction.
“I’m not gonna lie, added Shannon Hustava. “I feel a bit cheated. I’ve been watching since Feb and now it feels rather unkind that you want us to pay to know gender. I get that you are raising funds, but does loyalty mean nothing?”
And the reaction drew quite the response.
“Can’t wait to see what’s next to complain and feel entitled about,” said a commenter identified as Tamara Eckstadt.
“I look at it this way,” wrote Caryl Dimmare. “This is like a concert or sporting event where general seating is free and paying for the app you get front row seats. Paying for upgraded tickets and getting the perks. Really no difference.”
“You aren’t owed a thing just because you can’t afford $5.00, or a text plan or a mobile device, or whatever,” wrote Courtney Scott.
Animal Adventure Park is making no apologies.
“While you may be disappointed that our text subscription supporters will find out first;” said a post from the park on April 3, “you too will find out through major media outlets. From the beginning, the gender was going to be announced through those outlets anyway. Now with the technological resource of the text alert system-we can notify people immediately.
” … From day one, to view the cam and be a part of the journey, has not cost a thing. The additional options are participated in by choice and ultimately support the park, our giraffes, and giraffe conservation.”
As Nathalie Ethier (she of the “conflict free” activity post) wrote of the April the Giraffe experience:
“I am certain that this will generate social studies (yes on Giraffes) but principally in HUMAN BEHAVIORS.”
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