HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. – Before an online audience of more than a million viewers, April the giraffe gave birth to a calf Saturday at a New York zoo, ending weeks of proverbial pacing by animal lovers in a virtual worldwide waiting room.
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 mama giraffe tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick its head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after it was born, the calf stood on its wobbly legs for the first time while mom helped keep her baby steady.
At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park's YouTube streaming of the event . A logo on the feed quickly changed from ToysRUs to BabiesRUs following the birth.
This is April's fourth calf, but Animal Adventure Park's first giraffe calf. The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.
The privately owned zoo began livestreaming from April's enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily.
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 $125,000 on Saturday morning. The money will be used for the care of the animals.
A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.
The park's livestream was briefly interrupted in February when YouTube pulled the feed after someone reported the images contained explicit material and nudity. Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, blamed "a handful of extremists and animal rights activists" for the interruption.
The wait for the giraffe became an anxiety-ridden experience for some. A Farmington, New Hampshire, songwriter even posted a music video on YouTube called, "I'm Going Crazy Waiting (For A Giraffe)."
The reaction on Twitter was ebullient and hopeful: "We did it, internet! We had a giraffe baby together;" ''Everybody sticking their neck out for this baby giraffe;" and "On a day where "mother of all bombs" is a trending phrase, I love how the world unites over the birth of a baby giraffe."
No immediate details on the calf were announced, but they usually weigh around 150 pounds (68.04 kilograms) and are about 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall at birth. Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months on average.