April the pregnant giraffe didn't kick the vet -- but she tried

Baby watch continues, and keepers say additional bodily changes for the mama-to-be will be udder-ly fascinating.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
3 min read

April the Giraffe may be getting a little tired of waiting for baby to arrive, but no, she didn't successfully kick her veterinarian, "Dr. Tim," who came to check on her on Monday.

Pregnant April has been in the spotlight since a live webcam in her pen at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, started up on Feb. 22. Since then, fans have watched her eat, play, poop and interact -- mostly patiently -- with the human keepers and doctors who pop in to check on baby.

"April's attitude is good, though she did strike at (and miss) the vet again," keepers wrote on the park's Facebook page Monday night. "We just think she was giving him a hoof (hand) out the door.

And while fans may be getting impatient for a baby to arrive, imagine how April -- and her human companions -- must feel, as giraffes are pregnant for 15 months "plus or minus 60 days," Dr. Tim said in a video published March 25.

"Keepers, vet, and Jordan (Patch, the park's owner) agree -- we are getting there!" the park's Facebook update continues.

And for those who really want to know what biological variations to watch for, here you go.

"Her mammary development has continued to slowly increase," the update continues. "Photo in comments. This is good! We do not expect any additional back-end swell, so all judging is now done based on udder changes. You will notice keepers continuing to snap photos of the underside to document changes."

Sandra Lockman Jones wrote: "Never EVER thought I would be this interested in a giraffe's teats!!!"

She's not alone. At various times during Monday evening, more than 100,000 viewers were watching the livestream, and when zookeepers held a chat, comments were being posted so fast the stream flew by at an almost unreadable pace. The almost-kick at the vet was a topic of conversation, as was how the park knew April was pregnant ("she stopped cycling, we confirmed with a poo sample sent to a lab") and how the keepers will know it's go time ("hooves showing means active labor").

The live feed and accompanying additional videos now have a sponsor in Toys R Us, whose cartoon mascot, Geoffrey, is a giraffe.

On Monday, the park posted a video of zoologist and head giraffe keeper Allysa Swilley, who's familiar to live-feed watchers, discussing her bond with April. Swilley has known the giraffe since she arrived at the park in September 2016 and worked with her "almost every day since then."

Giraffes, Swilley says in the video, only sleep about 20 minutes a day. "She doesn't really go to bed, she takes quick short cat naps," Swilley says of April. She also says the giraffes can eat about 50 pounds of food per day.

April, age 15, is expecting her fourth calf, and it'll be the first for daddy Oliver, who's 5. The calf will weigh around 150 pounds (68 kilograms) and will be about 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall at birth.

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