It almost feels weird to be writing this, but as you may know by now, April the giraffe has given birth. And I was “there” — watching Animal Adventure Park’s live cam and Facebook stream, dropping everything I was doing to make sure I had a chance to watch everything go down. When April’s water broke and her newborn calf literally popped out Saturday morning at approximately 9:53 a.m. ET, I had just three words to say, even as I sat in front of my laptop with no one else around to hear me shout out in glee.
“Oh yeah, April!”
One day later, it still makes me smile when I think about it. The level of excitement and emotion in my voice at that time, I’d say, was similar to what you’d hear from me if my favorite sports team won a championship game. Or perhaps, if one of my favorite wrestlers finally joined the WWE, or returned to the company after a long absence. And as far as this Animal Adventure Park live cam viewer goes, the only thing that could top watching April the giraffe give birth would be the eventual thrill of becoming a first-time parent.
But that’s the thing about the giraffe cam — it allowed millions of people around the world to watch, in real-time, what a mother giraffe goes through as she expects a child. For more than two months, we watched and waited as April manifested physical changes that we may have thought were significant, but were, at the end of the day, more subtle all along. With human mothers, we have a good idea of what’s going to happen within the course of an average nine-month pregnancy, but that’s not the case with mother giraffes — very few of us knew that April and other giraffes are usually pregnant for about 15 months, but thanks to Animal Adventure Park, its live cam, and its always-informative team, we now know that, on top of many other giraffe-related factoids.
Throughout this long, strange, yet ultimately fulfilling trip (pardon the Grateful Dead reference) that has been April the giraffe’s pregnancy, there’s one more take-home thought I’m bringing with me now that April has given birth. Ever notice how people from all walks of life would put aside their differences and personal opinions to wish April the best, share giraffe-related facts or trivia, or comment about how wonderful it could be to watch a giraffe as she prepares to give birth? Instantly, that reminded me of how the opposite is true whenever I venture over to other public internet forums or comment sections.
It’s something I see whenever I check Reddit discussions about pro wrestling or visit the Facebook page of my favorite basketball teams. I see it even more pronounced when supporters of my country’s president launch into personal, even sexually-offensive attacks, at people who oppose his presidency. And then you’ve got the never-ending arguments over religious-related topics. Heck, there was even a time when two online acquaintances of mine from a musician’s forum — two cousins, no less — became estranged when a simple discussion about space discoveries turned into a heated science vs. religion debate.
We never got that when we were talking about and showing support for April the giraffe, or watching the Animal Adventure Park live cam.
Of course, it wasn’t a perfectly conflict-free zone as we waited for April the giraffe to give birth. Sure, I’d see a troll or two sneak in, and as the Washington Post reported this week, there had been people accusing AAP of using April’s viral popularity as a means to monetize its operations. But just as quickly as these trolls and fault-finders would appear, they would essentially disappear, countered by a plethora of positive, uplifting posts from people who truly care about April the giraffe.
That, to me, is unity — a sense of unity you don’t get when Donald Trump supporters and detractors argue with each other, or to use a sporting example, when Golden State Warriors fans trash-talk Cleveland Cavaliers fans or vice versa. It’s so common and so petty for people to dislike someone over the people or entities they support, but when we were watching the live cam, nobody cared about politics and other potentially divisive topics.
Once again, it’s an odd feeling for me to take stock of the fact that April the giraffe has given birth. But now that she has, it is my hope that we look back at Animal Adventure Park’s live giraffe cam and remember that for a little over two months, we could take part in an online experience that’s generally free of mudslinging, negativity, and hatred over conflicting views. If only we could act that way everyday while we’re on the internet.
[Featured Image by Animal Adventure Park/AP Images]