April the giraffe is "doing great," her keepers at an upstate New York zoo say, and posed for a sunny-eyed photo to prove it.
Keepers captured her and her beau, Oliver, taking advantage of the abundance of sun outside her pen. The love birds could be seen resting their necks against each other behind a backdrop of fluffy white clouds and clear blue skies while squinting at the camera.
April may be in need of sunglasses, but there's no shortage of food, despite fans' concerns. The zoo says it's received an "alarming number" of emails claiming that the giraffes hadn't been fed, but it's not so: their main food source is outside their pens, so viewers aren't able to see them chow down.
"Their shared enrichment feeder is not their main food source; and those main sources and their waters are off screen," the zoo said. "Rest easy! Since 2015 we have cared for our long neck friends without issue or outside input on it."
Some viewers got excited Saturday when both a veterinarian and the park owner visited April, but the zoo said it was just a checkup.
Several signs point in the right direction: April's back end is swelling and her belly is "high and tight," the zoo said Saturday evening.
As for when she'll deliver, only time will tell, Animal Adventure Park says.
Watch the live stream below (NOTE: weather conditions may cause intermittent disruptions).
More than 116,000 people were watching April by Saturday evening.
Earlier in the day, April basked in the sunshine, which illuminated her hay-laden pen with streaky golden rays. The long-necked beauty and her 5-year-old mate peered over their pens beside one another, gazing at the entrance to their abode, before Oliver fixated on an opposite-facing corner.
April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf. Neither she nor Oliver have been able to roam freely outdoors because of the bitter cold and heaps of snow covering the tri-state.
Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progress.
April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.
Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.
"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."
He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.
Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.
The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.