The pregnant giraffe at an upstate New York zoo has been on edge for days, with agitation brought on by her kicking calf and the cold weather that’s kept her cooped up inside.
Thankfully, April’s handlers said her “mood continued to improve” and that she should be able to return outside as temperatures warm Tuesday. (A live stream from her pen is below.)
"April had a very active night that did keep us glued to the cam screen!" the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville posted in its Tuesday morning Facebook update. "She settled in around 5:00 and got a few good naps in. Not much else to report on physical or behavioral change."
Vets have been monitoring April carefully and say they're pleased with her progression, though April was "not impressed" with one veterinarian's examination on Monday, the zoo said. She ended the visit early with “toe tapping” and “fancy footwork” that ended with “a small front kick.”
The “lazy jazz hands,” as the post described April’s little dance, was a way for her to say the exam was done and claim her space, the zoo said. Despite her mood swings over the past week, April is still healthy and as hungry as ever, the zoo said, even “stealing” hay from her mate Oliver on Monday.
Tens of millions of fans across the globe are waiting for what may be the most-anticipated giraffe birth ever.
The keepers said there's been a "significant amount of belly movement and tail raising" lately from April and that she did get a bit spooked by the kicking calf over the weekend, but keepers later reported her spirits had improved.
"We completely understand her swings!" the zoo wrote on Facebook. "She is a big girl and getting bigger. Vet report is all positive and happy with progression."
The mom-to-be has grown significantly, visible in comparative photos from a week ago show. Wax caps are still present, though her back left teat appears to be shedding.
A photo posted to the zoo's Facebook page Saturday showed April's rotund belly curving out and downward, a sign that she's nearing the home stretch of her pregnancy, says owner Jordan Patch.
"She's progressing well in her pregnancy," he said. "She's not in any pain, things are good."
More than 50,000 people tuned in to watch the gentle giant Monday morning as she peered over the dividing fence to catch a glimpse of Oliver, who paced around his pen. The long-necked lovers were seen interacting over his pen for a few moments.
April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's live 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.
Weeks later, she continues to captivate millions across the world. More than 60,000 people were tuned into the live stream Tuesday morning. Patch 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 for 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.