HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. – Where's the baby?
That's the question everyone is asking about April, the now-famous-and-very-pregnant giraffe at Animal Adventure Park. And it seems like her handlers aren't even sure. But they're not worried.
On Thursday, April's keeper reported a significant change in her shape. "Her body/belly is much less beach balled, as the bulges have streamlined. Perhaps suggesting a new position of calf."
The said they're hoping for a "launch sequence!"
On Tuesday, April's keeper reported that "April continues to ignore grain, and back end swell is noticeably larger than day prior. We, like many of you, sat up in bed or were inches from our screens a few times last night. She keeps us guessing. Rest assured, all is well, there is no distress, no pain - she is simply (but slowly) advancing. From what we have been told from prior facility - when she has her calves - she calves very quickly - which has us all on our toes as it is!"
Many April watchers noticed that lights were out earlier than usual Monday night. Her keepers explained, "With normal routine returning of warm temps and yard time, coupled with the thought that a natural light cycle of the dusk and dawn type may help entice/speed up our labor, you will see us change our treat time and lights out routine to earlier in the day. When exactly? Depends on quite a bit...so keep watching!"
On Friday, a weekend birth seemed like a sure thing, with her keepers posting, "All observations, behavior, and predictions suggest a calf today, tonight - we would be shocked to get through the weekend without our newest addition. This is what we have all been waiting for!"
Well, the weekend has come and gone, and still no baby calf.
So what happened? April's vet, Dr. Tim, explained in a Sunday night post:
So the timeline for my 24-48 hour prediction is rapidly coming to an end... not surprising is the fact that we still have no calf and we still don't have a giraffe in Labor! Pretty much all of her clinical signs from a couple days ago are still true. She just isn't quite ready to give the world what it wants.
To answer a few question I have seen on the web in various places: no, she isn't late; no, she isn't overdue; no, I'm not concerned she is "taking so long", nor should you be. Yes she remains happy and comfortable (considering the circumstances). Yes, she will have this calf when she is good and ready. No, public outcry won't change that. No, I cannot induce her, nor should we want to... (those are human constructs which don't apply to large wild animals and only endanger the life of April and her calf )Yes, it will be awesome when the calf arrives. No, watching after April is not my only job. Yes, we have been watching her for a very long time... enjoy the
You all know how much I love to be wrong about my predictions, but such is life. I'll keep all posted and will let you know when the baby is on its way. It really shouldn't be much longer, I'm just not going to tell you my guesstimate anymore.
So we're still watching. And waiting.
In case you missed it, Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch offered a few updates and FAQ’s on April last week.
Is April actually in labor?
There's been a lot of speculation of how long April has been in labor and if she's actually contracting. Patch explained that it's not very likely that you will be able to tell April's labor until you see an actual hoof begin to poke out of her rear-end. Giraffe's instinctively hide their labor for however long it's lasting in order to not draw attention from predators who will wait out a giraffe's labor in order to attack once the calf is born. One sign of active labor is when the giraffe's water breaks. It can be anywhere from a slow trickle of liquid to a flow of mucus.
Then why is the feed up if we're not sure when the calf is coming?
Animal Adventure Park is currently in its off-season and the park is closed to visitors. People who've visited the park in previous months knew of April's pregnancy and the park has been receiving inquiries about her giving birth. Animal Adventure felt this was a good way to keep those who wanted to follow along with April informed.
Is the calf a boy or girl?
Animal Adventure says their ultrasound equipment cannot tell the sex of the calf.
Why is April's mate, Oliver, kept separate from April?
Male giraffes instinctively care about three things. Mating, fighting and eating. Oliver is only allowed inside with April a little at a time and under close supervision. Otherwise, he could be a danger to April and her calf by either fighting her, attempting to mate with her or eating her food. Male giraffes also are not part of the child rearing process.
How can we tell if April is contracting?
Giraffes are pros and hiding their labor, but Patch explains there are certain signs he looks for that he believes are her contractions. They include movement in the hips, straightening of the neck and stomach movement, which is the calf moving inside.
What if YouTube removes the video again?
Animal Adventures says they have a back-up plan and will go live from their Facebook page of the feed.
When the public submit names for the baby?
Once the calf is born and the sex is determined, Animal Adventures will post a contest announcement on their social media platforms where you can submit your name suggestions.
How old is April?
We learned that April is 15 years old. In natural habitats, a giraffes' life span is about 15 years. However when in human care that can extend to 20-27 years old. Patch explained that April is in good and strong condition that not only is her life span expected to go well past the 15 years, depending on how she handles her fourth birth, she could possibly be fit enough to have more calves.
How long has April been with Animal Adventure Park?
April has been with Animal Adventure Park since September 2015 and this is her first calf birth at the park. Once her calf is born and she is done nursing it, he or she will move on to another facility as it's rare to keep family members together with fear of incest.