HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — A pregnant giraffe has its own website, a GoFundMe page, an apparel line and millions of people worldwide watching live-streaming video waiting for it to give birth.
The 15-year-old long-legged YouTube star, named April, is expected to give birth any time now in her enclosed pen at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, rural upstate village 130 miles northwest of New York City.
Since the privately owned zoo's giraffe cam began live-streaming video from April's enclosure last week, the feed has totaled more than 15 million views on YouTube as people around the world check on the status of April's 15-month pregnancy. The birth of April's fourth calf was still pending as of Thursday, when the live video had about 115,000 people looking in.
"Instead of local or regional we're global," said Cortney Whalen, a spokeswoman for zoo owner Jordan Patch. "It has definitely broadened the general awareness of the park."
In videos posted on the park's Facebook page this week, Patch has said that he's been busy tending to his 200-plus other animals and that the flood of emails has become "so overbearing" that he's asking people to stop sending them.
A GoFundMe page set up for April, giraffe father Oliver and their calf has raised more than $23,000 out of a goal of $50,000. Whalen said the park also has received separate donations, but she said she didn't know how much. All the money will be used to feed, house and care for the giraffes.
April's website, aprilthegiraffe.com, includes a link for buying apparel from baby clothing to adult-sized hoodies imprinted with a giraffe's head and "#Aprils View Crew" along with the park's name and location.
The park's live stream was interrupted briefly last week when YouTube pulled the feed after someone reported the images contained explicit material and nudity. Patch blamed "a handful of extremists and animal rights activists" for the interruption.
Giraffes can be in labor anywhere from hours to a full day. April was elsewhere when she gave birth to her first three calves, and this one will be the Harpursville zoo's first giraffe calf. Patch plans to hold an online naming competition for the baby after it's born.