The live stream from Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., which began during the winter, drew nearly five million viewers a day at its peak. Some viewers kept checking back, even as the period in which April was expected to give birth came and went. Others became frustrated, with a few theorizing that because she had not gone into labor, she was not actually pregnant.
But as April paced in her pen on Saturday, two hooves began to appear. After a few hours, a newly born giraffe was lying on the floor, glancing around, looking as bewildered as any newborn. The calf tried to stand a few times but could not. An hour later, it was on its feet, walking around gingerly. A spokesman for the animal park said the calf was a boy.
“After many months of pregnancy, both mom and calf are doing fine,” Jordan Patch, the owner of Animal Adventure Park, said in a statement.
At its peak, the live stream drew a flood of media coverage and attention for Harpursville, a community of 3,500 about three hours northwest of New York City. The question now is whether that attention will translate into an economic boost for the area, part of a region known as the Southern Tier that was once a manufacturing powerhouse but that has struggled financially in recent years.
“There’s nothing ever that’s been of this magnitude in our rural town,” said Gordy Carroll, a councilman in Colesville, the town that includes Harpursville. “We are anxiously awaiting to see and definitely expecting a very big summer.”
There were already signs that April’s fame was reverberating in the area. One family recently arrived at the park after driving from Ohio, only to find it closed for the winter, said Mr. Carroll, who added that he had heard about a dozen similar stories. A hotel in nearby Binghamton has booked more than 100 reservations for a package that includes admission to the animal park when it reopens in May, according to Jennifer Conway, the president and chief executive of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce.
Multiple interstate highways pass through the area, and Ms. Conway said a display to alert tourists to April’s presence was being planned for a rest stop on Interstate 81. “We’re going to embrace them as a community,” she said. “You only get this once in a lifetime.”
The park and Harpursville, which has only a couple of convenience stores and restaurants, are working on their ability to handle crowds. “There’s not a stoplight in the entire town,” Mr. Carroll said.
April’s handlers had initially predicted that the birth would come between mid-January and mid-February, but then the pregnancy stretched on. So did the live stream, which often showed April strolling in her pen rather uneventfully. Attention began to wane.
But social media erupted with cheers on Saturday after April gave birth. “This is the best day ever,” wrote one person. “CONGRATS #AprilTheGiraffe,” wrote another, “YOU DID IT.”
There will be a contest to name the calf, and April will begin to raise him, weaning him for at least six months, according to the park. Eventually, the baby giraffe, April’s fourth, will be moved to a separate facility. The father, Oliver, is not expected to be in the picture much.
“Bulls (male giraffes) only really care about two things,” the park noted in the description of the live stream, “fighting and the unmentionable.”
|April and her baby in a pen at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y. Credit Animal Adventure Park, via Associated Press|
WATCH : It's a boy! New York's April the giraffe's calf stands on his wobbly legs for first time
Before an online audience of more than a million viewers, April the giraffe gave birth to a male calf today at a New York zoo, ending weeks of proverbial pacing by animal lovers in a virtual worldwide waiting room.
The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf this monring in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 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 for the first time while mom helped keep her baby steady.
At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park's YouTube streaming of the event .
Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch said that both mom and calf are doing fine.
Patch said the calf's entrance into the world "was unnerving to even those of us who have witnessed animal births previously."
This 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 as his first offspring was born.
The privately owned zoo began livestreaming from April's enclosure in February and people around the world have been tuning in daily.
The park's livestream was briefly interrupted in February when YouTube pulled the feed after someone reported the images contained explicit material and nudity.