Another Missing Puzzle Piece Added to April the Giraffe's Mysterious Pregnancy - NBC Chicago
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Another Missing Puzzle Piece Added to April the Giraffe's Mysterious Pregnancy

Tens of millions of people across the globe have tuned into the live stream in anticipation of the birth of April's fourth calf

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    Have we filled in yet another missing puzzle piece in the mysterious case of April, the seemingly forever-pregnant giraffe?

    Animal Adventure Park, the upstate New York zoo live-streaming the giraffe's fourth pregnancy for tens of millions of worldwide admirers, says yes. 

    The now world-famous giraffe has been shunning her grain as of late, but that all changed quickly Thursday night -- perhaps in preparation for the long-awaited birth.

    "Behavior was very typical at first, but shifted. This is not a bad thing, just adds another piece to our puzzle," the zoo said in its nightly Facebook update. "We have been told by other parks that mothers will sometimes feast just before the birth. Who knows and here is to hoping."

    By Friday morning, April had finished all the prior night's grain and was still chomping away, the zoo said. Otherwise, "she is very much herself." 

    More than 135,000 people were tuned into the live stream shortly before 8 a.m. Friday as April twitched her tail, pacing around in her pen, head to the ground. Her beau Oliver appeared very concerned as he watched her and kept peering over the top bar of his pen to get a better look at the long-necked beauty who will deliver his first baby. 

    Watch the live stream below.

    It appears April has always had a loving, motherly side to her, although that was hardly in question. Even though the world continues to wait on the arrival of her fourth calf, the zoo posted an adorable picture of the giraffe from last year's opening day giving a real human baby a big smooch. 

    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.

    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.

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    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.

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