Congratulations April! World famous NY giraffe gives birth - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Congratulations April! World famous NY giraffe gives birth

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The mom protectively stood over her baby as she licked it lovingly. The calf laid sprawled out on a bed of hay after dropping from his mother's womb minutes before 10 a.m. Oliver peered his head over his pen to catch a glimpse of his new baby and trotted around as the new dad anxieties began to set in.

Owner Jordan Patch beamed with pride as he told more than two million viewers tuned in to the zoo's Facebook live stream that everything went "absolutely perfect" and the staff "couldn't have planned it better."

"There you have it guys, we have a baby," he said. "We're going to let mom and baby do their thing for a bit. This is great, awesome, everything went according to plan."

Patch says the eager-to-nurse calf is already nibbling on his mom. It wasn't clear what the calf's gender was, but the zoo promised to give details once available.

The long-necked beauty went into labor shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday. Fans got a sneak preview of the birth through a captionless photo posted to Facebook showing what appeared to be the leg of a giraffe calf. 

About an hour after her labor was announced, two little legs and the calf's front hooves were seen dangling from April's behind in a live stream posted to the Harpursville, New York zoo's Facebook page. Her keepers were all smiles as they anxiously watched from outside her pen.

April has teased her millions of global adorers for weeks now, showing signs of near-but-not-quite labor and otherwise enchanting her audience with cute right-at-the-camera gazes and tongue flicks, snack noshing and nuzzling with her much younger but handsome beau Oliver, 5. 

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines in late February after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's live stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Patch says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds. 

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you'll get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy was more than just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The new calf will be the first giraffe born at Animal Adventure Park.

The zoo had said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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