April the giraffe gives birth before online audience
1.2M people watched New York state zoo's YouTube streaming of the event
The wait is over for April the giraffe and the legions of fans who watched a New York zoo's livestream for signs that the long-legged internet star was in labour.
April gave birth to a healthy male calf Saturday at the privately owned Animal Adventure Park before an online audience of more than a million viewers.
The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. ET in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village, 209 kilometres northwest of New York City.
The mama giraffe tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick its head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after it was born, the calf stood on its wobbly legs while mom helped keep her baby steady. He began nursing not long after.
At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park's YouTube streaming of the event. Zoo owner Jordan Patch said both mom and calf were doing fine.
Patch called the birth "unnerving" to watch. "Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event," he said in a news release.
The newborn is April's fourth calf but Animal Adventure Park's first giraffe calf. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.
The zoo began livestreaming from April's enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily, with some growing impatient as the pregnancy seemed to drag on.
A Farmington, New Hampshire, songwriter even posted a music video on YouTube called, I'm Going Crazy Waiting (For A Giraffe).
April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $134,000 by Saturday night. The money will be used for the care of the animals.
A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.
The park's livestream was briefly interrupted in February when YouTube pulled the feed after someone reported the images contained explicit material and nudity. Patch blamed "a handful of extremists and animal rights activists" for the interruption.
The new calf's vital statistics were not announced, but newborn giraffes usually weigh around 68 kilograms (150 pounds) and are about 1.83 metres (6 feet) tall at birth. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months on average.
Animal Adventure park is currently closed to the public and will open in mid-May.