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As other giraffes give birth, April continues to wait; but her turn may be near

A female Masai giraffe entered the world at the Toledo Zoo weighing 130 pounds and standing 5 feet, 7 inches. Her name is Kipenzi, which means beloved or precious one in Swahili.
A female Masai giraffe entered the world at the Toledo Zoo weighing 130 pounds and standing 5 feet, 7 inches. Her name is Kipenzi, which means beloved or precious one in Swahili. YouTube screengrab

Poor April the preggers giraffe. Maybe she has performance anxiety.

Over the last month millions of people have watched her via the live cam in her pen at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., waiting for her to give birth.

People are so tired of waiting that when April 1 rolled around, some suspected the giraffe cam was one big April Fool’s joke. But reports on Friday indicate she’s getting close.

Meanwhile giraffes around the world have beaten her to the punch, and with much less fanfare. On Monday, giraffes were born at zoos in Toledo, Ohio, and Cheshire, England.

“The world may be waiting for April the giraffe to have her calf over in America, but our giraffe Orla has beaten her to it!” the British zookeepers crowed on Facebook.

The Chester Zoo posted video of the birth to its Facebook page on Tuesday. (Look away if you get squeamish.)

The 5-foot-tall calf — a male — arrived after a 15-month pregnancy and four hours of labor.

Giraffes give birth standing up so the babies make quite the entrance, falling from as high as 6 feet to the ground.

“Although it might be quite a drop, and they may fall to the ground with a bit of a thud, it’s how giraffe calves arrive into the world and it stimulates them into taking their first breaths,” Sarah Roffe, giraffe team manager, told AOL.

“That whole process, from a calf being born to it taking its very first steps, is an incredibly special thing to see.

“Those long legs take a little bit of getting used to but the new calf is doing ever so well, as is mom. She’s an excellent parent and is doing a fantastic job of nursing her new arrival.”

Mama Orla and her newborn are rare Rothschild’s giraffes. According to the zoo, poaching has led to a 90 percent decline of the species; only about 1,600 are left in the world.

“Despite ongoing conservation efforts, the species is really struggling to bounce back,” the zoo wrote on Facebook. “Right now, we are working out in Africa on a conservation action plan to ensure that populations don’t fall to an even more critical level.”

Also on Monday, a female Masai giraffe entered the world at the Toledo Zoo weighing 130 pounds and standing 5-feet-7-inches, according to the Toledo Blade.

Her name is Kipenzi, which means beloved or precious one in Swahili. She and her mother, Elli, won’t meet the public until around Memorial Day.

Unlike April’s keepers in New York, the Toledo Zoo doesn’t livestream animal births.

“A lot of different things can go wrong in birth,” Shayla Bell Moriarty, the zoo’s director of communications, told the Blade. “It’s no different than human childbirth.”

She said focusing on the birth itself could detract from the bigger issue of conservation, with giraffe populations in the world declining by nearly 40 percent over the last three decades and all nine subspecies listed as vulnerable.

At Animal Adventure Park in New York, April, who had been off her feed lately, began gorging on Thursday, giving zoo officials hope that her delivery is at hand.

“We have been told by other parks that mothers will sometimes feast just before the birth,” the zoo wrote on its Facebook page. “Who knows and here is to hoping.”

More than 135,000 people were tuned into the livestream shortly before 8 a.m. Friday, according to NBC New York.

“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,”Animal Adventure owner Jordan Patch told NBC.

“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.”

Once April’s baby is born the zoo will hold an online competition to name it.

Here’s hoping a fitting name won’t be May.

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