Posted: April 16, 2017
By Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. —
April the giraffe's long-awaited calf is finally here – but he doesn't have a name.
That's where her throngs of fans come in.
The home of the proud mama, Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, is holding a contest to name the new baby boy, born Saturday morning as 1.2 million viewers watched via livestream after months of anticipation.
To enter the contest, visit NameAprilsCalf.com. Votes are $1 each for a minimum of five votes.
"For about 10 days, you can vote on any name or names you choose for April's new calf," the website says. "You even get to decide your own spelling. Come back and vote as many times as you'd like."
After the initial voting period, the park will reveal the top 10 names and hold another vote to determine the winner.
The park said it will livestream April and her calf through Thursday.
Rejoice, April the giraffe has finally given birth.
Animal Adventure Park in New York announced Saturday morning that April was in active labor. Over 1.2 million people were watching the live stream during the birth.
Fans have been following the pregnant giraffe since February, when Animal Adventure Park announced that April should be giving birth soon.
And so the wait began. Fans watched the YouTube live stream and shared their anticipation on Facebook. April the giraffe merchandise was sold. Toys R Us sponsored the livestream. Mazuri, a feed company, donated food. As the days and weeks dragged on and no sign of the calf, April became late night talk show fodder and inspired countless memes. Some people even thought that the whole thing was a clever April Fools' Day joke.
But April 1 passed, and no calf. It wasn't until April 15 that the calf, a male, made his much-anticipated appearance.
Now everyone is obsessed with watching the calf bond with his famous mother April.
The whole world is watching April the giraffe.
The 15-year-old mammal has been on pregnancy watch for months now, and New York’s Animal Adventure Park has continued to increase anticipation of a calf’s birth.
For how long are giraffes pregnant? Is April actually in labor?
According to Animal Planet, the average gestation period for a giraffe is 15 months. That’s comparable to the gestation period of killer whales (15 to 18 months) and African elephants (22 months).
Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park, told WUSA it’s unlikely vets will be able to tell if April is in labor until the calf’s hoof begins to poke out of her rear-end. “Giraffe's instinctively hide their labor for however long it's lasting in order to not draw attention from predators who will wait out a giraffe's labor in order to attack once the calf is born,” WUSA reported.
April’s water has not yet broken –- an active sign of labor.
Patch said the live stream of April started as a way to keep interested visitors informed about the giraffe during the park’s off season. People who visited the park last year knew about her pregnancy and wanted updates during the time the park is closed. Animal Adventure Park reopens May 13.
April the Giraffe’s pregnancy: A brief timeline
April joined the zoo in September 2015. At the time, zoo officials said they had plans to mate April with the park’s first giraffe, Oliver.
It’s unclear when the park first found out April was pregnant, and AprilTheGiraffe.com, a website operated by Animal Adventure Park dedicated to all things April doesn’t specify when news of her pregnancy was first discovered. But the park wrote on Facebook that April and Oliver had “connected” in the fall of 2015. In February 2016, officials wrote on social media that she may have been pregnant then and that they would begin testing soon. A November 2016 post shows keepers tending to April and Oliver with preparations for birth. A narrator in a live video said April was expected to give birth in January.
Workers at the park continued to speculate that April would give birth in January or February. By February, a live stream video was started to allow fans to watch April’s every move up until the birth of her little one. On March 31, a post on the park’s Facebook page said it “would be shocked to get through the weekend without (the) newest addition.”
What are people saying about it all being a prank?
Some people have said the anticipated birth of April’s calf was an elaborate joke, with some saying news of the prank would be announced on April Fool’s Day. After April 1 -- with no birth and park workers and vets still saying the birth is still to come -- speculation of an April Fool’s quip died down.
Others maintained doubts, referencing this post uploaded by the park in February 2016:
Others have said the park is intentionally hyping up the April’s pregnancy in an effort to collect funds. Animal Adventure Park has launched or supported GiraffeMoji, April the Giraffe apparel, a GoFundMe account for April and a paid text service to get alerts about April’s developments. At the end of March, Toy-R-Us announced a partnership with Animal Adventure Park. Animal Adventure Park is a for profit organization.
April’s vet took to Facebook Sunday after the birth of April’s baby still had not come.
“So the timeline for my 24-48 hour prediction is rapidly coming to an end... not surprising is the fact that we still have no calf and we still don't have a giraffe in Labor,” he wrote Sunday. “It really shouldn't be much longer, I'm just not going to tell you my guesstimate anymore.”
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