I thought about whether I should post the story of April the Giraffe today, or it I should go for a fluffy (in a manner of speaking) topic such as "Should We Have Peep Flavored Oreos?"
Me? I'm watching the giraffe cam.
Watching April the giraffe has "gone viral". A Harpursville, New York (about 20 minutes from Binghamton, where I work) educational animal park is now in the news worldwide because they set up a webcam on You Tube with a live feed and also decided to set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for their park. (I'm not linking to any fundraiser, for a reason I'll explain shortly). Many people are watching April as they have spare moments. In fact, when I logged on Monday evening, over 80,000 people were watching April live. Now, at about 6am, it is about 44,000 viewers.
Why the fuss?
April, a 15 year old giraffe, is pregnant, and should be delivering her 4th calf any time now. Maybe any minute now, because her baby bump is quite evident and you can see ripples of movement. Her mate, Oliver, waits patiently in a nearby enclosure. (Why not together? Male giraffes are aggressive and may injure their mates. They are allowed brief visits - I've seen one on the cam - and Oliver is watched carefully during those visits.)
However, there are those who don't believe in confining wild animals in this way. The owners would state, in return, that Animal Adventure is an interactive educational facility. I have not visited it but I have seen the owners out in the community at various events. They obviously love what they are doing.
The owners decided to post the last days of April's confinement online, and you can determine the conditions these two giraffes are being kept in. I am not qualified to do that, but I can see where I will end up with comments both pro and com. I welcome them, just asking that you keep them polite and respectful of me and other commenters.
Her food and water are out of camera range, in case you are wondering. And, yes, she and Oliver are permitted outside time, as weather permits. This is still, after all, winter.
Here are some facts from the You Tube posting:
"The calf will weigh around 150lb and will be about 6' tall at birth.
The front hooves will come out first followed by the snout.
Mom will naturally raise the calf, with weaning could take between 6-10 months, maybe longer. We will not rush this process – it is just a documented range of captive weaning.
Once the calf is born, we will have a contest to name it.
Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months
Upon naturally weaning, the calf 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.
They eat hay and specialized giraffe diet but love romaine lettuce and carrot treats."
But, there is more to this than watching a giraffe.
If you go to You Tube, you will notice that comments for the cam have had to be disabled. In fact, last week, someone reported the cam feed as having "nudity and explicit content" and it was taken down for a time. While they were allowing comments, the trolls (you won't find any at the park, by the way) were quite active.
And, the fundraising? There have been people putting up fake You Tube and funding sites. People have been scammed. In a live chat on You Tube last night, there was some discussion about that. If you do want to donate, I strongly suggest you make sure it is the real park site first.
So, what do you think of April, and her giraffe cam? It seems to me Animal Adventure has been educating us just as much about human behavior as animal behavior. Sad. This giraffe cam has taught us lessons, all right.
Not just the lessons the owners of Animal Adventure wanted us to learn.
UPDATE 3/6/17: There is now a website devoted to April - please be careful that you go to the official website, which is http://www.aprilthegiraffe.com/
And if you want to read about Oreos, I'll be happy to post about them on Thursday.