HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — The long-awaited offspring of internet sensation April the Giraffe is being described as strong and “very independent.”
Before an online audience of more than a million viewers, April the giraffe gave birth to a male calf Saturday at a New York zoo, ending weeks of proverbial pacing by animal lovers in a virtual worldwide waiting room.
The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. EDT in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of New York City. The mama giraffe tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick its head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after it was born, the calf stood on its wobbly legs for the first time while mom helped keep her baby steady.
He began nursing not long after.
The owner of Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York says the not-yet-named baby boy was on its feet within an hour after its birth Saturday — and galloping around its mother within three hours.
Jordan Patch says he was so excited that he was shaking when he made the calls to assemble the delivery team.
Patch said the calf’s entrance into the world “was unnerving to even those of us who have witnessed animal births previously.”
“Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event,” Patch said in a news release.
This is April’s fourth calf, but Animal Adventure Park’s first giraffe calf. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.
The zoo began livestreaming from April’s enclosure in February.
Patch says April is “recovering perfectly” following the delivery.
April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $125,000 on Saturday morning. The money will be used for the care of the animals.
A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.
Five things to know about April and her newborn.
More than 1.2 million viewers watched the birth in real time thanks to Animal Adventure’s livestream. The zoo began streaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily. Animal Adventure’s owner, Jordan Patch, has described the global attention as “overwhelming” for him and his four-member staff, who also care for 200 other animals.
WORTH THE WAIT:
Giraffes have one of the longest gestation periods of any animal, about 15 months. Newborn giraffes generally weigh about 150 pounds (68.04 kilograms) and are about 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall at birth.
Animal Adventure Park posted on its Facebook page Sunday that the calf weighs 129 pounds (58.5 kilograms) and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75 meters).
The yet-to-be-named calf is the fourth calf for 15-year-old April. The calf’s father, Oliver, who watched the birth from an adjacent pen, is a first-time father at the age of 5. Male giraffes don’t help raise their young.
GOODBYE AFTER WEANING:
The zoo’s owner says the newborn will stay with April until he is weaned, which can take six months or longer. The calf will then move on to another zoo. Animal Adventure says it can’t keep the offspring because that could lead to incestuous mating.
NO VISITORS YET:
Animal Adventure is in rural Harpursville, New York. It is currently closed and will open to the public in mid-May. The nearest city is Binghamton, about 15 minutes away.
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