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Vet Launches ‘Operation Taco Induction' to Speed April the Giraffe's Labor

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

Start getting excited. The long-awaited arrival of April's fourth calf is close to over, according to her veterinarian. For real.

"We are seeing almost all the signs of birth happening within the coming days," Dr. Tim reports. 

Animal Adventure Park, the upstate New York zoo live-streaming the giraffe's ever-so-famous pregnancy, shared the doctor's report in its Facebook update Wednesday night. 

Now, with April still not in labor (yet), launch "Operation Taco Induction."

"In an effort to speed things along I am launching 'Operation Taco Induction,'" the doctor said. "Let's see what happens." 

"Disclaimer," the doctor says, "She didn't actually get a taco."

A day ago, the zoo reported April is progressing "in front of our eyes." And that hadn't changed by Thursday morning. 

"Like many of you, we spent the evening watching our April. She continues to progress," the Thursday Facebook update read. "Mammary development stays remains as filled udders, and will likely not get much larger. We continue calf countdown."

Watch the live stream below.

With possible labor happening at any moment, nearly 90,000 people looked on while April rested comfortably in the middle of pen Thursday morning, occasionally looking over to catch a glimpse of her younger, 5-year-old mate Oliver. 

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When April goes into labor, the baby's front hoofs 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.

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This is 15-year-old April's fourth calf. It'll be the first for her mate Oliver. 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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