When a zoo in upstate New York set up a live webcam last week of a pregnant giraffe about to give birth, millions of people logged onto YouTube to watch. Even more tuned in after an online controversy briefly shut down the feed, calling even more attention to the 15-year-old giraffe named April and her calf-to-be.
The Animal Adventure Park zoo says there is no way to predict when April will give birth. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months and labor can take two to six hours and sometimes days. “We are showing all signs of end of pregnancy but no active labor at this time,” Jordan Patch, the owner of the Harpursville, NY (pop. 3,543) park tells Us Weekly, noting that giraffe’s instinct is to hide any signs of labor. On Wednesday April was a “happy camper,” after spending some morning time outside, he told Us.
For now, the live feed, which has more than 100,000 people logged on 24 hours a day, is a look at the moment-to-moment life of an expectant giraffe, which basically seems to be a lot of hanging out next to her baby daddy (Oliver, 5) in the next stall and eating a lot of hay and specialized giraffe food.
Hiddleston provided a live dramatic narration of the giraffe’s movements on BBC Radio 1 Wednesday morning. “All giraffes need to exercise. She’s taking a walk around her room. Look at that magnificent long neck,“ The Night Manager star said in his best radio voice, describing her swishing her tail “magnificently around her quarters. She takes a bow, she knows the world is watching.”
This will be April’s fourth baby, but it is the first giraffe calf to be born at this small-town zoo, so park officials decided to make the most of it. The story went viral after the zoo reported (via a Facebook post) that YouTube briefly took down the stream after animal activists reportedly complained that it violated the platform’s “nudity and sexual content policies.” (YouTube reinstated the feed a few hours later but didn’t issue any comment.)
At birth, the calf will weigh around 150 pounds and will be about 6-feet tall, according to the zoo. If all goes as planned the front hooves will be the first part of the baby to appear, followed by its snout.
The zoo, which is now selling April the Giraffe T-shirts, plans to show the birth on Facebook Live and have a contest to name the giraffe, which will live with the mother until it naturally weans, and will be viewable by park visitors when the zoo opens for the season in mid-May.