April the giraffe finally went into labor today around 7 a.m. EST, and more than 1.2 million people were watching live when her baby was born almost three hours later.
People worldwide have been cheering the 15-year-old giraffe on for two months. In fact, April the giraffe became so popular that Toys R Us ended up sponsoring the live feed.
Now that conspiracy theories about her not really being pregnant have been put to rest, it’s time to examine how the world became so fascinated by this particular story. After all, there have been at least two other baby giraffes born in zoos since April was catapulted into the spotlight. However, neither of them garnered the same amount of attention as the beloved April the giraffe.
How Did April’s Live Feed Get So Popular?
There was one pivotal event that put April the giraffe into the spotlight: in February, her live feed was temporarily shut down for supposedly containing nudity. This action was traced to animal rights activists who were protesting the conditions that April and her mate, Oliver, live in. It seems unlikely that the people involved in that protest had any idea that their efforts to stop the world from seeing April the giraffe give birth would turn her into a viral superstar.
What Made the World Keep Watching?
There are many psychological reasons that millions of people kept tuning in with the hope of seeing the birth live. One of the prime motivators is quite simple; to be part of a big crowd. Whenever anything begins to go viral, there will always be people who get pulled into it who would have otherwise been completely uninterested.
Humans like to feel like they are part of something important, and we also want to be able to participate in conversations about timely trending topics. Tie this in with the social aspects of discussing April the giraffe on Facebook and Twitter, and you have the perfect recipe for viral success.
It’s also important to note that seeing something happen live is way more enticing for most people than catching a replay of it on the evening news. This is what keeps people glued to their screens when breaking news such as a live police chase occurs. Furthermore, this is the reason people flock to the first screening of highly anticipated movies. It allows us to say that we were there, which makes us feel like we were part of the action.
April the Giraffe Provided a Nice Respite from the News
Another factor that cannot possibly be overstated is the timing of the April the giraffe live feed. First off, February is a dreary month, and people are much less likely to be participating in outside activities. Secondly, news outlets such as the Boston Globe have been reporting on the effects of post-election stress since November. Other recent developments such as the MOAB strike in Afghanistan sent people looking for more cheerful news this weekend, as well.
No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, it’s become clear that daily news is currently very anxiety-inducing for millions of people. During this stressful time, April the giraffe was introduced to the world. She represented something much simpler and more innocent, and she also served as a unifying presence. The world was able to unite over a common interest that wasn’t political, didn’t have the potential to start a war and was mostly uncontroversial.
For these reasons and much more, April the giraffe has captured the hearts and minds of viewers worldwide. It remains to be seen if any other live streamed animal can do the same thing in the future. Either way, though, April the giraffe has earned her place in viral history.
[Featured Image by Kai-Uwe Knoth/AP Images]