April the Pregnant Giraffe: Why We Love Her So Much
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
I found out about April the pregnant giraffe from a meme on Facebook. Then I saw a few friends post that they were spending way too much time watching the pregnant giraffe on her webcam.
“Whoa, there’s a webcam of a giraffe about to give birth? I’m in!” I thought. And so I searched and found the Facebook page of the Animal Adventure Park in Upstate New York. Then I clicked on the webcam.
Several days later I am not ashamed to admit that I have had April the pregnant giraffe’s webcam feed streaming on my phone for most of the day. Every day. Of course I am working, I am writing blogs, and doing all of the things I do each day. I even started writing a tiny bit of my next book. I am not glued to the video feed, but she’s right by my side in a virtual way as I do other things and I glance over at the streaming video on my phone from time to time.
Last night I was on a conference call when her zookeeper did her nightly visit. Each night someone comes into her pen, cleans up any excrement on the floor, refills their hay, gives her snuggles, feeds her some lettuce and other treats out of a bucket, and they turn off the lights, leaving April and her beau Oliver with a nightlight.
“Oh, man, I missed her giraffe turn down service,” I said out loud to my husband and our middle teen. “Oh, NO!” my husband teased.
“Your giraffe still hasn’t had her calf, huh?” my daughter asked.
“Not yet,” I answered, “Trust me, you’ll know, I’ll probably send a group text if it happens when nobody else is home!”
I posted on Facebook yesterday that I’ve become emotionally attached to this giraffe. Fortunately I am able to laugh at myself in a self deprecating manner, but it is true. My heart goes out to this giraffe who is 700 miles away.
Watching the webcam, you can see how full her belly is, so round that it looks like she swallowed a beer keg. Every now and then you can see movement within her womb, her silky fur rippling with baby kicks. You can see when she lays down on the ground that it is with considerable effort, just like any mother at the end of her pregnancy. When her zookeepers come to give her lettuce and treats and check on her, your heart melts when she nuzzles them with her head and gets petted like our beloved dogs. Your heart just goes out to her and you want her to be as happy in her giraffe life as we are watching her.
I asked my friends, why do you think we are so obsessed with her? My friend Debby put it perfectly,
“With so much negativity and fighting in the world today, its nice to celebrate something we can all agree is good.”
I think Debby is spot on accurate!
In 2016 we had many of our beloved celebrities pass away, especially for those of us who are part of Generation X, many of those performers were part of our teenage years and our childhood years. We miss the celebrities but I think there is more to our grief: there is the fact that all of us who were kids and teens in the 1980s are headed to turning 50, or already there. When those performers who we watched in those early days of MTV start to pass away, not only do we miss their music, but we feel our age, we feel our own mortality.
Then there are the politics. No matter what side of the political debate we are on, politics has landed in our Facebook news feeds, and it seems that there are no shades of gray anymore, and people are passively aggressively and indirectly called horrible names by people they thought were their friends. But April the giraffe is neither Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Green Party, she’s not with her or with him. She’s just a pregnant giraffe waiting for her baby to arrive.
I think we love April for the same reason we dog lovers love dogs and animals in general. They are enough like us that we know they experience joy and sadness, pain and pleasure. Animal lovers know that animals have feelings, thoughts, and we feel united with them because we understand that they are not just part of the food chain, that they are sentient beings.
On the flip side, though, we also appreciate them for their differences, because although they have thoughts and feelings, they are not caught up in the type of complicated and sometimes negative thoughts that humans have. They aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses, they don’t argue about politics or shame you on how you are raising your children. They don’t call you a snowflake or a racist bigot. They are easy to have as friends because all they expect is to be treated humanely and they aren’t caught up in their own heads like we humans tend to be.
Maybe we love being on baby giraffe watch because we simply can relate to the joy of a new life coming into the world. It goes back to a mother’s love that spans our different species. It doesn’t hurt that the father of the giraffe is in the pen next to her and they meet up at their shared wall frequently. If you listen to the zookeepers at the Animal Adventure Park, they have explained that he has a short list of priorities: eating and mating, which is why he’s not allowed to hang out with her at this stage, but it’s still cute to see them together just sharing simple giraffe moments.
No matter the reason, normal people like me have been swept in by baby giraffe watch. As long as you don’t stop living your actual human life, it sure is a nice change from watching the gloom and doom of the news and the bickering among friends over politics, and I am thrilled that the zookeepers put a webcam in her pen so we could all share in the joy. Thank you to the Animal Adventure Park for letting us share in this experience and the joy of waiting for April’s baby to come into the world.
Note: There are many fake feeds, so make sure you follow their actual Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalAdventurePark/.