As a powerful nor’easter moved into upstate New York, the zoo live-streaming April the giraffe’s pregnancy said the long-necked beauty has undergone “significant changes” and that her labor appears to be fast approaching.
“Ladies and gentlemen — we are close,” The Animal Adventure Park wrote Monday night in a Facebook post that included a photo of April paying close attention to her backside.
The zoo said April’s “back end has become significantly larger and relaxed” and “motion and pulsing in this area” has been noted and “discharge” observed.
“Are you on the edge of your seat?” the zoo asked millions of fans who have been closely waiting for the birth of April’s fourth calf.
More than 50,000 people were watching the stream at 8 a.m. Tuesday as April chewed on some food and looked directly at the camera.
Watch the live stream below (NOTE: weather conditions are causing intermittent disruptions).
But just as April’s pregnancy appeared to be reaching its crescendo, the live stream went offline Tuesday morning — and then it was back up again. The zoo warned that it could be on and off throughout the day.
It couldn’t be a worse time for technical problems. Keepers and vets have observed “significant changes” in April, who is “larger than ever” this week.
“We are still not confirming active labor, but will state all physical signs are heading in the right direction,” it continued.
On Sunday, the zoo posted a photo showing dark, rough-looking spots, or wax caps, decorating April's underbelly. It said the caps seal the udder to ensure there will be enough milk for the calf’s first nursing.
“Caps are shed just prior or during delivery, or can be removed by the suckle of the baby,” the zoo wrote.
April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf, which has been busy kicking away, according to the zoo.
Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progression.
April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.
Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.
"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."
He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.
Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.
The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.