Giraffe watch: April's baby is here! - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

April the Giraffe

Giraffe watch: April's baby is here!

The giraffe calf stands for the first time on shaky legs. (Source: Animal Adventure Park via YouTube) The giraffe calf stands for the first time on shaky legs. (Source: Animal Adventure Park via YouTube)
April cleans her new-born calf. (Source: Animal Adventure Park/Facebook) April cleans her new-born calf. (Source: Animal Adventure Park/Facebook)

HARPURSVILLE, NY (RNN) - It's a boy.

With a fall from a few feet off the ground, April the giraffe's baby was born at 9:54 a.m. Saturday morning. She was in active labor for a little over two hours.

Animal Adventure Park announced the baby giraffe's gender on Facebook on Saturday afternoon, and it's a little boy. The park will hold a contest to name him.

People across the country have been watching the live stream for weeks in anticipation of April's baby being born, and the wait has ended.

April's popularity led to a sponsorship from Toys 'R' Us, which has long featured the fictional "Geoffrey the Giraffe" as its mascot. Following the birth, the branding was changed to Babies 'R' Us.

WARNING: The video is a livestream, watch with caution.

The park sent out an alert over its paid first-alert message system around 7:30 a.m. Eastern on Saturday and posted a video to Facebook shortly thereafter of a park employee excitedly driving to the zoo to welcome the baby. Caretakers placed new, fresh bedding down to help April along.

The park has been taking criticism for the lengthy wait with several allegations that's it is a hoax or an April Fool's prank. Saturday's birth should alleviate those criticisms.

The calf is April's fourth and her mate Oliver's first.

The little giraffe isn't all that little. At birth, giraffes weigh in at about 150 pounds and stand about 6' tall, Animal Adventure Park said.

The park shared video of the calf standing up for the first time on its Facebook page.

Friday, April was out enjoying the daylight, as changes to her behavior have stabilized, Animal Adventure Park said.

"The only real drastic changes we will see from here is active labor, no much more change or development can occur," keepers said on Friday.

In previous Facebook posts, keepers chronicled significant developments that led them to believe the birth was nearing.

Keepers continue to stress the fact that "there is no reason for worry about her or the calf's health." April's vet says he's not concerned by the fact that April has not yet given birth, and she will simply have her baby when she is ready.

In an effort to possibly bring about labor, Animal Adventure Park shifted the giraffes' bedtime to follow the "natural light cycle" of dawn and dusk.

April and Oliver have also been enjoying their new enrichment toys, the park reports.

It's been nearly two months since the park shared the news of April's impending birth with the world, via social media. Thousands of fans have kept watch over live webcam footage chronicling April's every move.

April's vet has said there isn't enough data on giraffe pregnancies to determine exactly when April could go into labor. By March 23, the park reported she had become notably slower, saying that April was "in the home stretch" of her pregnancy. 

"Both Animal Adventure Park and Toys 'R' Us have the common goal of bringing awareness to the plight of the giraffe as well as the need to create a sustainable future for them," the Facebook post stated. "Made possible in part by their sponsorship, Animal Adventure Park will be donating $25,000 to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation!"

Tens of thousands of people have been tuned in for days watching the reticulated giraffe walk around her pen and do very little else, waiting until she has the baby.

The feed was earlier removed by YouTube after it was labeled sexually explicit. The park blamed the removal on animal rights activists who oppose zoos.

While April has not yet given birth, the park reported on its Facebook page that it has welcomed three black belly Barbados lambs and twin pygmy goats since the giraffe watch began.

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