A camera pointed at a pregnant giraffe named April back in February started out as a way to free up the staff at a tiny family-owned zoo in upstate New York. Instead of freeing up the staff, something very unexpected happened, and the phones rang off the hook as April the giraffe became a global online sensation.
That live-stream camera rocketed that pregnant giraffe named April into a big business for the Animal Adventure Park Zoo in Harpursville, New York. Not only has the zoo profited from the live stream pregnancy and birth, but surrounding businesses in this rural part of New York were suddenly seeing an uptick. With the new "giraffe family cam," this giraffe business can only get bigger. Starting this afternoon, that giraffe family cam will be turned on for all to see.
The staff at the Animal Adventure Park originally installed a camera to live stream a pregnant April with the hope of keeping the staff from having to field phone calls about the giraffe's progress. This was the original thought behind this camera, reports Jordon Patch, who owns this small for-profit zoo along with his wife.
While Patch won't say how profitable this venture has been in dollars and cents, experts in internet marketing believe that you are looking at an idea that's spawned hundreds of thousands of dollars. With Toys 'R' Us on board as a sponsor of the YouTube stream, it's only going to get bigger. According to ABC Local 13 News, so far Toys 'R' Us have created a clothing line, T-shirts, caps and fuzzy toys out of April the giraffe's popularity.
The area businesses are also seeing monetary gains from April the giraffe. The local Doubletree Hilton in Binghamton is "booking fast and furious" due to April and her new calf, claims the assistant general manager of the hotel. So far they've sold over 200 of the special lodging packages they put together, according to Eddie Bello. This package, which comes arranged in a miniature wooden crate, includes tickets to the Animal Adventure Park Zoo, a toy giraffe, and other merchandise.
According to Local ABC 13, the businesses in the surrounding area of the Animal Adventure Park have been struggling. The recent loss of manufacturing jobs in this southern tier of New York has left an economic hardship for many residents. April the giraffe is breathing new life into the area when it comes to the tourist trade.
The director of the Greater Binghamton Convention and Visitors Bureau spoke with reporters about the phenomenon of April the giraffe. Judi Hess said, "the response has been huge." Not only are they getting inquiries from all across the nation, but they've also heard from people across the pond in England. April the giraffe and her baby really are a global sensation.
Along with April and her new calf, there are 200 other animals at the Animal Adventure Park, which include zebras, monkeys, and alligators. Up until the recent phenomenal success with April and the birth of her baby, the rural area was just another part of upstate New York, but today, it is a destination for vacationing families.
Patch and his wife started the 20-acre zoo about 4 years ago. It is about 130 miles from New York City, which makes it a feasible driving distance for a day trip for those who dwell in the Big Apple. The money generated from the April and baby giraffe viral phenomenon will help maintain and grow the zoo, but it is also going towards the conservation of giraffes in Africa.
Patch did discuss the GoFundMe page that was started for the care of April the giraffe and her baby. This will also go towards the care of Oliver the giraffe, who is April's mate and father of the newest giraffe, which has yet to be named. The GoFundMe campaign has brought in more than $150,000.
Now that the spring is here, and April has put the Animal Adventure Park on the map, Patch expects to do double the business that he did last year. They expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 visitors to come through the park's gates this year. The cost to get into the park is $11-$13 dollars for each visitor. As far as the money that was generated due to the video stream of April, neither Patch or Toys 'R' Us were willing to discuss amounts.
According to ABC Local News, it looks like April and her offspring have made some internet history.
"After coming online Feb. 23, it has become the second most-watched livestream in YouTube history with more than 232 million views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time."It appears that what had started out as a nice thought of letting others peer in and take a gander at a pregnant giraffe, and eventually, the live birth of a giraffe calf, has turned into big money.
Patch, who has a daughter named Ava with a rare form of epilepsy, is donating part of the proceeds they realize from the giraffe's viral popularity to a charity that helps local children with unexpected medical bills. Then with some of the proceeds making their way to a conservation foundation for giraffes in the wild, you'd be hard-pressed to say any money made because of April's popularity is not a good thing.
Still, there are some complaining that the park is using the giraffe to "cash-in" with complaints heard about the $5 they charged for you to sign up and get "giraffe alerts" during April's pregnancy. Then the $1 charge for adding a name to the contest held for naming April's baby was another bone of contention for some. The name will be announced on May 1. The park is also selling some merchandise dedicated to April the giraffe and her baby, like a $20 tote bag, a three-pack of giraffe prints for $50, and $16 for their "April's View Crew" T-Shirts.
As far as the April live-streaming show being over, that is not for long. The park offers a promise on their Facebook page that the tradition of giraffe viewing will continue in the form of a family cam. They are also planning an outside camera that will overlook the giraffes in the yard. They write on their Facebook page;
"The Giraffe Cam returns today, and every Tuesday from 4 PM - 8 PM Eastern."
You can access the new giraffe cam here from April the Giraffe's Website.
The Animal Adventure Park also promises a "permanent yard cam" as another way to keep you connected to the set of giraffe parents, April and Oliver, along with the new unnamed baby giraffe. The yard cam will provide you with daytime viewing hours. The inside cam that was activated today gives fans a chance to see the giraffes inside once retiring from their time outside, which is how they will spend their days in the nice weather. Live Science reports that the park opens on May 13, and according to the staff, the yard cam will be installed, so the fans will have a new way to watch the giraffes in their day to day outside activities.
[Featured Image by Markus Schreiber/AP Images]