HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) – April the giraffe’s calf is nursing strongly and his mother is recovering “perfectly,” said officials with Animal Adventure Park on Sunday after a morning veterinarian check with the newborn.
April gave birth to a healthy male calf Saturday at the privately owned Animal Adventure Park before an online audience of more than a million viewers.
The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. EDT in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of New York City.
The calf weighs in at 129 pounds (58.5 kilograms) and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall (1.75 meters).
“April has recovered perfectly and is eating everything in sight!” the team posted on its official Facebook page .
Seconds after birth, April tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick his head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after he was born, he stood on wobbly legs while mom helped keep him steady.
At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of the event. Zoo owner Jordan Patch said both mom and calf were doing fine.
Patch called the birth “unnerving” to watch. “Giraffes give birth standing up, which means when the calf is ready to be born, it exits its mother hooves first from six feet off the floor, making for a very exciting event,” he said in a news release.
The newborn is April’s fourth calf but Animal Adventure Park’s first giraffe calf. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months on average. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.
The zoo began livestreaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily, with some growing impatient as the pregnancy seemed to drag on.
A Farmington, New Hampshire, songwriter even posted a music video on YouTube called, “I’m Going Crazy Waiting (For A Giraffe).”
April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $134,000 by Saturday night. The money will be used for the care of the animals.
A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.
Animal Adventure park is currently closed to the public and will open in mid-May.