Imagine this. You are a year and a half pregnant. You are taken care of and have all the food and water one would ever need. You live in a secluded space, marching to the beat of your own drum.You look up and realize that you are being watched. There is a camera streaming your every move to thousands of people behind screens who, just like you, are waiting for the birth of your child.
Sounds weird, right? The idea of a pregnancy used for other’s enjoyment is a strange concept, but it is one that is all too familiar for April the giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park outside of Binghamton, New York. April is a fifteen-year-old giraffe whose year-and-a-half long pregnancy has been livestreamed and watched by many on Youtube. April, a veteran mother, is about to give birth to her fourth, and most famous, calf.
The Adventure Park decided to stream this miracle because, “it was off season,” and they “felt this was a good way to keep those who wanted to follow along with April informed.” Not only did it inform those who wanted to keep up with April’s pregnancy before the livestream, but it brought viewers from all around the world. At 7:12 p.m. on March 29, the Animal Adventure Park Giraffe Cam had an amazing 165,843 viewers.
What will April be doing when you log on? Well, she will probably be either sleeping, eating, or just doing absolutely nothing at all. Maybe you will be lucky and watch a live giraffe birth; that is probably why the views just keep coming.
What is it about humans that makes the idea of watching a pregnant giraffe so enjoyable? This is not the first case of a livestreamed zoo birth, and each seems to be more popular than the last. The Atlanta Zoo’s website had a record amount of hits when the panda Lun Lun gave birth to twins, now named Ya Lun and Xi Lun, and then the recording of the growth and lives of the baby pandas continued to be popular.
Mammals are not the only animals included in the zoo birth fad. In Naples, Florida there was an “Eagle Cam.” The livestream showed a nest of bald eagle eggs waiting to hatch and, like other zoo births, the livestream gained many views from watchers online. Each viewer waiting to see a simple crack in an egg.
The pregnancy of April the Giraffe became so popular that one pregnant human decided to recreate the live stream. Facebook user Erin Dietrich began a livestream of herself walking around her room wearing a giraffe mask on March 6, 2017 and managed to gain 21 million views in just under a day. The livestream of Dietrich, much like the livestream of the giraffe, is just the pregnant woman/giraffe woman pacing around their room and doing, well, not much. Dietrich told BBC online, “All our friends have been making fun of me and my obsession with April, so we just thought ‘hey, we should order a giraffe mask.’”
I asked around school to see how April’s pregnancy was affecting my classmates. Some, like Olivia Brown (17′) and Marnie Brennan (’17), have been unaware of April. “Never heard of her, but I wish her and the baby the best of luck,” Brown told me, and Brennan informed me that she “must live under a rock because [she] didn’t know this was a thing until now.” I was surprised to find that many classmates had not heard of April, until I spoke with Bobbie Edmonds (17′), who said, “I love April with my whole heart.” There seemed to be a split at Collegiate between those who recognized April’s story and those who did not, the latter being the larger group of the two.
While the livestream of April has been streaming since February 24, anxious viewers are on the edge of their seats waiting to meet this new giraffe calf. April, on the other hand, is having a wonderful time, full of pacing, sleeping, eating, and more pacing. I, for one, can not wait for April to have her calf, and will join the almost 200 thousand viewers as they anxiously wait for the birth of April’s baby, which supposedly will be any day now.
Featured image credit: Sorenknudsen via Wikimedia Commons.