Another day has come and gone and still no calf for April the world-famous New York giraffe.
A more normalized routine with the return of warmer temperatures and increased yard time could help speed up labor though, according to Animal Adventure Park, the upstate zoo live-streaming the giraffe's pregnancy for the world.
"Coupled with the thought that a natural light cycle of the dusk and dawn type may help entice up our labor, you will see us change our treat time and lights out routine to earlier in the day," the zoo said in its Monday night Facebook update.
April has remained off grain, the zoo said, and turns up her nose at lettuce, but still won't turn down a Dr. Tim carrot treat.
Not much had changed by Tuesday morning; the zoo said April still didn't want grain, but remained healthy with no signs of pain or distress. Keepers said the three-time mom had them on her toes overnight, showing signs she might deliver her fourth. While April remained pregnant Tuesday morning, the zoo said the facilities where she had her past calves indicated the babies came quickly once she went into active labor, so told fans to stay on their toes.
More than 200,000 people were watching feverishly just before 10:15 a.m. as April stood under her sunlit windows, looking around her pen quietly before peering with interest outside. Later, the 15-year-old beauty strutted over to her handsome but much younger beau Oliver (5), and flirted a bit before turning her back to him and walking off in the direction of the camera.
Watch the live stream below.
Even though many predictions about when April will go into labor have been thrown out the window, Dr. Tim, the veterinarian caring for the world-famous giraffe, says he isn't worried her time hasn't come yet.
"No, she isn't late; no, she isn't overdue; no, I'm not concerned she is 'taking so long,' nor should you be," Dr. Tim wrote on Facebook. "Pretty much all of her clinical signs from a couple days ago are still true."
"She just isn't quite ready to give the world what it wants," he said.
And thus, we will continue to wait.
When April goes into active labor, the baby's front hoofs will be the first to come out, followed by the snout, the zoo says.
Mom will naturally raise the calf on her own, and weaning could take between six to 10 months, maybe even longer -- the zoo says it won't rush the process. Once weaning is over, the baby giraffe will move on to another facility to start a breeding program there.
"We cannot retain offspring, as it would lead to incestuous mating and undermine the genetics of the program and species," the zoo says.
This is 15-year-old April's fourth calf. It'll be the first for Oliver. He won't take any part in rearing the calf, though. Male giraffes, called bulls, really only care about two things, the zoo says: "fighting and the unmentionable."
"He is a bull -- and a bull is a bull is a bull!" the zoo says.
April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's 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.
Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, 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're gonna 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 is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education. This is the zoo's first giraffe calf.
Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.
The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.