April the giraffe and her millions of adoring fans are still waiting for her baby calf to be born, and a new photo posted by the upstate New York zoo live-streaming her pregnancy suggests that moment may be fast approaching.
The Animal Adventure Park posted a photo to its Facebook page late Sunday that shows dark, rough-looking spots, or wax caps, decorating April's underbelly. The wax caps seal colostrum in the udder to ensure that there will be enough for the calf's first nursing, according to the zoo.
"Wax caps are what develops on the teats of the udder to keep colostrum in the udder, to ensure that it is their [sic] for baby's first nursing," the zoo wrote. "Caps are shed just prior or during delivery, or can be removed by the suckle of the baby."
In its update Monday morning, the zoo said April is "looking larger than ever" and keepers continue to report active kicking in her ever-growing belly.
Watch the live stream below.
April was wide awake early Monday, the baby bump clearly visible as she chewed on some food in an otherwise darkened pen. Her mate, Oliver, appeared to be asleep in his adjacent quarters. By 10:30 a.m., more than 80,000 people were tuned into the stream as April snacked once again. Oliver was seen in the background, pacing around his pen, apparently wanting some attention.
April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf, which was busy kicking away Thursday night, the zoo said. The zoo noted viewers may have noticed “increased tail raising” from April, likely due to the pressure of her growing baby.
Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progression.
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.