HARPURSVILLE, NY — Looks like the conspiracy theorists were wrong: April, the pregnant New York giraffe whose live cam at the Animal Adventure Park petting zoo was creeped upon by millions of people all over the world for upward of two months, really did have a baby in there. And now that he's a living, breathing, wobbling petting zoo resident in his own right, there are so many wonderful new things to learn each day about April's mini-me.
Here are nine essentials from his first few days on Earth.
9. Once April went into labor — around 7:30 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, April 15 —
it took another two and a half hours for her to push the baby out. His two front hooves were the first body parts to poke through — and the only ones, for what seemed like an eternity. Once the baby's head had emerged, though, it was only a matter of minutes before the rest of his spindly body took a 6-foot plunge to the floor of April's pen. Here's a video showing the last half hour of the birthing process:
More than 1.2 million viewers were watching the Animal Adventure Park live cam as April's baby was born Saturday morning, making it one of YouTube's top five most-watched moments, according to the Associated Press — and around 13 million more viewers tuned in throughout the day. Overall, since the live stream was posted in February, it reportedly attracted more than 232 million viewing sessions and 7.6 billion minutes of watch time. The only YouTube feed with more views is League of Legends eSports, which has been online for around five years, the AP reported.
7. It only took around an hour of nuzzling and licking from April for her new baby boy to take
his first steps. And they were just as adorable and shaky-kneed as we could have hoped. Here's footage:
6. The calf still has no name. Animal Adventure Park is using all this enduring attention to host a paid naming contest for the babe. Proceeds will go toward improvements at the petting zoo, giraffe conservation efforts in the wild and Ava's Little Heroes, "an event named after the daughter of the park owners, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy."
The zoo revealed the Top 10 submitted names on Wednesday, April 26. You now have until Sunday, April 30 vote on your favorite(s) among those names for $1 per vote, and you must vote at least five times to participate. Only then, once those votes are tallied, we'll be able to put a name to that insanely cute little giraffe face. Vote here.
5. Although the new calf looks teensy next to April,
he's actually the size of a grown male human: Just after birth, he weighed in at 129 pounds and already stood 5 feet 9 inches tall.
The calf has since gained around 5 pounds. "Little bugger is getting stronger and heavier!" the zoo wrote in a Facebook update Tuesday morning. "Much harder each day to get hands on — and that's a good thing!"
Here are some zookeepers for scale:
4. April is very protective of her new baby. In an awkward moment watched 'round the world, she kicked a vet in the crotch when he first came in to check on the wee one. Here's a replay of the unfortunate encounter:
This is 15-year-old April's fourth child.
The baby's father is Oliver, who can be seen on the Animal Adventure Park live cam in the pen next door. "Oliver is quite interested in the calf; much more than we anticipated," the zoo said on Facebook. "Perhaps a good sign for eventual introductions and shared space times."
The calf, meanwhile, "is quite spunky and independent; perhaps he takes after his father," zookeepers said. "He also has his inquisitive and friendly moments of engaging keepers with the genuine nature of his mother. We are smitten."
2. Why did it take so long for April to go into labor? Giraffes have the longest gestation period of any animal on Earth — usually around 14 to 15 months. And although her zookeepers believed her calf had been conceived circa October 2015, which would have put her due date in mid-February, there was some uncertainty about when, exactly, the magic had happened. "We observed breeding behavior in about mid-October ," zoo owner Jordan Patch said. "It does not mean just because they bred, they conceived. If anything, maybe we missed a cycle. Cycles are every 17 days, so maybe 17 days past what we thought was the due date. Or maybe 34 days after that."
1. April's baby must be removed from her pen directly after he stops nursing, which typically takes around six to 10 months. If zookeepers let him stay, there would be a danger that he and his mom would start mating.
Images via Animal Adventure Park/Facebook
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