April the giraffe welcomed a not-so-little bundle of joy Saturday morning after animal lovers devoted weeks to watching and waiting.
April is one of the most popular residents at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. Fans have kept up with her for weeks as she anticipated the birth of her fourth calf. April is 15 years old.
After a 16-month gestation period, the wait finally ended with the calf’s debut in a livestream from the zoo. At the time of the birth, 1.25 million people were watching the livestream. It is the first time a calf has been born in the animal park.
The weight of the newborn is unknown, but a calf at birth is usually about 6 feet tall and weighs a whopping 100 to 150 pounds. Calves start walking about half an hour after birth.
April will raise the calf, with weaning expected to take between six to 10 months. However, the park will not keep the newborn.
Keeping the calf “would lead to incestuous mating and undermine the genetics of the program and species,” the Animal Adventure Park’s website says.
The park will hold a contest to name the calf.
The birth comes at a dire time for giraffes, whose numbers have plummeted over the past three decades — from more than 150,000 to fewer than 100,000, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Giraffes are in the process of a “silent extinction,” experts reported last year.