There is no question that April the giraffe is approaching active labor, but what exactly does that mean? What is the difference between early labor, active labor and delivery? April is a pregnant, 15-year-old Reticulated giraffe who lives at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York with her five-year-old mate Oliver “Ollie.” Since January, April’s every action has been live streamed online leading up to one momentous event: the birth of her calf. While April is showing signs of being in early labor, the real action begins once calf hooves are seen, and active labor begins. Here are some of the changes April the giraffe will experience before we are in the heart of the birthing process with the appearance of hooves and a baby calf on the scene. You may watch the giraffe cam live streaming in the video player below.
Watch April the Giraffe Cam Live
Signs of Early Labor in Giraffes
Some confusion ensued regarding April the giraffe’s due date when AAP owner Jordan Park first noticed mating behavior between April and Oliver in October 2015. Giraffes have a gestational period of approximately 450 days and the park expected the calf to be born towards the end of February. When that timeline came and went, it was understood that everything was progressing normally, but that the timeframe for active labor needed to be adjusted. April is the first pregnant giraffe at the park, and this is the first giraffe birth they will experience. The Animal Adventure Park staff are by no means strangers to pregnant animals. They have had an influx of animal births at the park since the giraffe cam went live.
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) April 28, 2014
According to the Giraffe Husbandry Manual provided by the Australasian Zookeeping site, it isn’t uncommon for difficulties to arise when determining giraffe due dates. The fertility cycle is approximately two weeks, making it extremely difficult to pinpoint when conception occurred. This was beautifully illustrated when hundreds of thousands people panicked on social media networks fearing everything from a pregnancy crisis to a false pregnancy. April is examined at least once per day by her veterinarian Dr. Tim, and those examinations are becoming more frequent as active labor nears. By all accounts, April the giraffe is pregnant, there is really a calf in her womb, and active labor can begin at any moment.
April The Giraffe Labor Updates With Photos And Videos, Watch Live Cam https://t.co/R9NRE1XXa2
— Digitally Contented (@DContented) March 14, 2017
Labor signs and symptoms that April will experience include those that are early labor and then what will happen during active labor. Active labor is the actual process where the calf is born, and early labor is everything that leads up to that point. Significant changes that April will experience before reaching active labor include stomach changes, appetite changes, udder or teat development, the production of milk and wax caps and behavioral changes. The closer April the giraffe gets to active labor, the more noticeable these changes will become.
Fetal movement is seen approximately two weeks before birth. Those who have watched the live giraffe cam can attest to witnessing plenty of fetal activity. Many Animal Adventure Park updates include photos of the baby calf’s movements from within the womb. With a two-week time frame, you can determine that April is right on time for a giraffe calf to be born.
Changes in the stomach and udders must take place before active labor begins. The Animal Adventure Park provides many updates and shared with the public photos of April’s udders and stomach that reveal significant changes. April’s stomach has grown larger, and there is frequent activity within her womb. Her udders are larger and appear to have milk in them. Here are two Animal Adventure Park updates with photos highlighting the significant changes.
Regarding the udders, it’s important to note that they become larger approximately 19 days before active labor begins and produce milk two days before active labor starts.
Behavioral changes will be a definitive sign that active labor is about to begin. Previous zoos have shared observations regarding giraffes before giving birth. The PDF document Perinatal Maternal and Neonatal Behavior in the Captive Reticulated Giraffe chronicles the changes in a pregnant giraffe for 90 days periodically before the birth of her calf and for three weeks continuously. Some physical changes included greater activity in fetal kicks as active labor drew near. The observations showed that as active labor neared, the giraffe’s appetite decreased. On the day of delivery, the giraffe didn’t eat much at all but drank considerably more water than what was usual. The giraffe observed in the document slept less on the night before delivery as well. Instead of lying down and resting for approximately 4-5 hours, the giraffe rested only 1 hour.
It is still possible that April has a few weeks to go before active labor. There is simply no way to determine an exact schedule. What we do know; however, is that April is healthy, the calf is active, and both mother and baby are meeting all the necessary milestones for a successful delivery.
Once active labor begins and calf hooves are seen, the Animal Adventure Park will operate a second live video feed through Facebook. Those who want to receive notifications that April the giraffe is in active labor may wish to subscribe to the Animal Adventure Park YouTube channel and Facebook channel. Both of these will live stream the birth, and you’ll receive a notification.
Are you anxiously awaiting the birth of April’s calf and the announcement that active labor has begun?
[Featured Image by MaZiKab/Shutterstock]