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Pregnant Giraffe's Behavior Gets ‘Interesting' After Calf's ‘Quiet' Spell, Zoo Says

Tens of millions of people across the globe have tuned into the live stream in anticipation of the birth of April's fourth calf

What to Know

  • April has captivated tens of millions of people across the world who have been checking in on her via the live stream
  • Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months; labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days
  • The calf will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, and the zoo says it will hold a contest to name it once it arrives

April the giraffe’s pregnancy is approaching its inevitable conclusion as her namesake month nears, with the upstate New York zoo monitoring her noticing “interesting” behavior lately and a lot of tail-raising.

“April had us watching the monitors close last night,” the Animal Adventure Park said in its Monday morning update, noting her “interesting” behavior.

A keeper reported that the baby’s activity has increased following a recent “quiet” spell, leading April’s caretakers to wonder if it was the calm before the storm.

April was “very relaxed” but clearly active Monday, with plenty of tail-raising and “a significant mammary change” to the wax caps on April’s teats. The caps protect vital milk for the baby and will fall off prior to or during delivery, the zoo has said.

Watch the live stream below.

April was very active Monday afternoon as she took strolls around her pen and gazed into Oliver's, neck stretched high. Around 135,000 people were watching the zoo's live stream at 5 p.m. as she took a moment to lick her undeniably large belly. 

The zoo released a video Monday about April’s relationship with Allysa, the park’s lead giraffe keeper. The two have formed a special bond since the giraffe arrived in September 2015.

“We’re just about inseparable,” Allysa says in the video.

Allysa also revealed an interesting factoid about giraffes: they only sleep about 20 minutes a day, taking cat naps here and there. Unsurprisingly, they're also big eaters, taking in about 50 pounds of carrots a piece each day.

Allysa’s job is a lot of work, despite the comments of April fans envious of the dream job. 

“Yes, I love on her, yes we get to spend a lot of great moments together, but the majority of my day is spent shoveling poop and feeding animals, working closely with our vet,” Allysa says in the video.

The zoo said the staff will spend time Monday trying to expedite the thaw in the yard so animals can get outside.

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When April goes into labor, the baby's front hooves will be the first to come out, followed by the snout, the zoo says.

Mom will naturally raise the calf on her own, and weaning could take between six to 10 months, maybe even longer -- the zoo says it won't rush the process. Once weaning is over, the baby giraffe will move on to another facility to start a breeding program there.

"We cannot retain offspring, as it would lead to incestuous mating and undermine the genetics of the program and species," the zoo says on its YouTube page.

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This is 15-year-old April's fourth calf. Her younger, 5-year-old mate Oliver, however, is about to welcome his very first. He won't take any part in rearing the calf, though. Male giraffes, called bulls, really only care about two things, the zoo says: "fighting and the unmentionable."

"He is a bull -- and a bull is a bull is a bull!" the zoo says.

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education. This is the zoo's first giraffe calf.

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Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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