No, it’s not a joke or a false start. This time it’s real, folks. April the Giraffe has gone into active labor, and her calf is on the way. April’s amniotic sack appeared at roughly 7 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, and two of the calf’s hooves could be seen moments later.
On April Fools’ weekend this year, anticipation and excitement for the arrival of April the Giraffe’s calf reached its pinnacle. Many users on social media lamented the fact that they had either not slept, or missed events, while some even skipped work all in the hope that they would catch April going into active labor.
Little did anyone know that we’d have to wait nearly two more weeks. Well, we don’t have to wait a moment longer. For interesting facts and more information on what happens now, keep reading.
Watch this very special moment unfold in the live stream video link below.
On the morning of April 14, Animal Adventure Park posted an update that created quite a bit of excitement.
“April is already out and enjoying the sunshine for the day. Grain intake remains moderate. Light discharge continues. Otherwise, all is normal and well – as expected. The only real drastic changes we will see from here is active labor – not much more change/development can occur.”
How does the labor process work?
April will give birth while standing up. This means that her calf will enter the world from a considerable height, usually up to six feet high. In a normal birth, the calf’s hooves will come out first, followed by the head, which allows the calf’s lower half to hit the ground first thereby by absorbing most of the impact.
Even though it may seem like April’s calf has entered the world in a traumatic way, there’s no need to worry because this is part of the process and allows for the amniotic sack to break, the umbilical cord to detach and also encourages the calf to take its first breaths.
In a zoo, giraffe births are especially significant as this animal is endangered in the wild. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there has been a forty percent decline in the natural giraffe population in Africa, their natural habitat. April is a reticulated giraffe, of which only 4,700 are left. The breeding programs in zoos allow the giraffe population to grow and recover, while also giving zoologists an opportunity to conduct necessary research as to how these magnificent beasts can be better protected in the wild.
In the wild, giraffes have to be much more guarded while giving birth. Large predators are always on the prowl and a newborn giraffe calf is a comfortable size for a lion or a leopard to take down. Therefore, the birthing area is usually meticulously chosen by the mother to provide adequate protection. Interestingly, a giraffe mother will often return to the same spot to birth future calves.
April’s calf is expected to weigh between 100 to 150 pounds at birth, standing roughly six feet tall.
So what happens after the calf is born?
According to Animal Planet, April’s calf should be able to walk within half an hour to an hour after birth. Standing is essential for the calf for it to be able to nurse from April. Within a day or so, the calf will be strong enough to run around. Once the calf is roughly 4-months-old, it will transition from drinking April’s milk to eating leaves.
Bonding is a crucial process immediately after birth, and April will initiate this by licking off any remaining amniotic fluids from the calf’s skin. April will also help the weakling calf to stand up for the first time. Male calves remain with their mothers for fifteen months, while females stay a little longer, up to eighteen months.
While in the wild, a giraffe lives for an average of 15 years, while in captivity their lifespan increases to over 20 years as a result of careful tending by humans.
Millions of people around the world have been fixated on April’s final stage of a 15-month pregnancy ever since the wonderful folks over at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY, began live-streaming all of April’s movements on YouTube.
Fans have been checking in daily, some for hours at a time, to watch and talk about April and her mate, Oliver, the pappa-giraffe-to-be who can usually be seen anxiously pacing up and down in his pen, sometimes galloping into the outside area and then back in, waiting for April to go into active labor. But she’s not worried because this will be her fourth calf.
Oliver has never had a calf before but has been displaying all the right signs by actively watching over April, often pacing along with her. At times when they’ve been in the same pen, they’ve cuddled up like any loving couple would.
Since Thursday night, March 30, staff at the Animal Adventure Park had noticed that April’s behavior was “very off” when she refused to allow park vets to approach her for an exam. The owner of Animal Adventure Park, Jordan Patch, seemed to be pleased with April’s progress.
After fans expressed frustration at what they felt was a misleading prediction as to when the calf would come, April’s vet, Dr. Tim, took to Facebook to clear things up. Dr. Tim’s Sunday evening update on Animal Adventure Park’s Facebook page stated the “timeline for my 24-48 hour prediction is rapidly coming to an end… not surprising is the fact that we still have no calf and we still don’t have a giraffe in Labor! Pretty much all of her clinical signs from a couple days ago are still true. She just isn’t quite ready to give the world what it wants.”
In fact, all mammals, including humans, almost never give birth on the expected due date because biology is not an exact science. The offspring are usually in control of when exactly it will happen.
If you are interested in sponsoring April, Oliver, their newborn calf, and all the other giraffes at Animal Adventure Park, a GoFundMe page has been created for donations.
[Featured Image by Jeff Chiu/AP Images]