This is April.
April is a giraffe in Harpursville, NY.
April has been pregnant a LONG time.
People all over the world have been watching her not give birth.
So how is watching a giraffe on a live stream on YouTube educational? It might seem a bit of a “stretch” but, trust me, it is.
I first discovered the #ApriltheGiraffe phenomenon while scrolling through Facebook. It was toward the end of February and the headline was something like “Giraffe About to Give Birth on Live Feed.” I took the bait. I clicked and ended up watching a giraffe (April) walk around her stall, eat and toss hay, lay down, sleep, and stare off into space. Taking the article at face value, I expected to see a baby giraffe (called a calf) drop from its mother at any moment. That was over a month ago.
Since then I have checked in on April the Giraffe at least 10 times a day, contributed to the hashtag, read others’ tweets, and read many articles and websites devoted to giraffe fact and conservation. I have learned so much about giraffes. I have also learned so much about people.
- Those things on their heads are called ossicones. They aren’t antennae. They aren’t ears. They are cartilage, and may have something to do with temperature regulation.
- Giraffes eat A LOT of food. In addition to the giraffe chow, they eat hay, carrots and romaine lettuce. In the wild they eat the leaves of the Acacia tree.
- Male giraffes care about eating and procreating. They are not lovey-dovey with the female giraffes. After a female is pregnant, they really want nothing more to do with her.
- Female giraffes birth their calves while standing, and until you see hooves emerge, you might not even know they are in labor. In the wild that helps keep them off the radar of lions and other predators, since during labor they are at their most vulnerable.
- Calves, at birth, fall about six feet to the ground. The fall and subsequent landing breaks the umbilical cord and shocks them into their first breaths.
- Calves are usually up and walking around within 30-60 minutes, and nursing shortly thereafter.
- Humans will rally around a giraffe – cheering her on – without being able to actually be near her.
- We will tell others all about the giraffe facts we have gleaned.
- We will bore others with those same facts.
- Humans will develop a sense of community around an event like this.
- We will bond over the common experience.
- We will donate money to the giraffe even though it is not tax-deductible.
- Some of us will create art around the experience.
- Some will anthropomorphize the giraffes into human-relationships that just aren’t realistic for giraffes.
- We will argue online with others who threaten that community through criticism.
- We will defend the giraffe.
- We will defend each other.
- We will continue to watch the giraffe not give birth for over a month.
I assume that the labor will be imminent at some point. In the meantime, you can find me tweeting with my fellow giraffe watchers, watching April the giraffe not give birth, eating, sleeping, and tossing hay. And, hopefully soon, you can join us watching a giraffe calf grow up.
Michelle Ames is a self-proclaimed Marketing Diva. She loves Rochester,NY and its varied businesses, women-owned enterprises, and all the many and diverse networks in and around the city.