Thank u, necks

When April the giraffe was the internet's main character

Published July 22, 2022

Three reticulated giraffes hang out in their Kenyan home.

"Smash that like button" - Giraffes in Kenya (credit below)

Life seemed so much simpler in the first few months of 2017. Sure, there was still plenty of shit happening, but none of us had to use words like “unprecedented” or “historic” or “anti-vaxxers” quite as often as we do now. And, for some reason, pretty much all of us spent the early spring obsessed with a pregnant giraffe at a zoo in New York state. 

Born in April 2000, April had only spent a couple years at the Animal Adventure Park in tiny Harpursville – near the Pennsylvania state line and not much of anything else – before the zoo launched a YouTube livestream for their 15-foot-tall expectant mother. Somehow, it quickly went viral, to the tune of 232 million live viewers and more than 7.6 billion combined minutes. (At the time, the channel broadcasting April’s undercarriage was YouTube’s second most-watched livestream ever.)

But because we couldn’t have nice things, even then, April’s YouTube channel was briefly taken down after it was repeatedly reported for nudity and sexually explicit content. “For the millions of you that have been tuning in to take witness of this educational experience of a live giraffe birth, there’s a handful of extremists and animal rights activits that may not agree with us […] that have unfortunately reported our YouTube cam as sexually explicit or nude content,” an Animal Adventure Park official wrote on Facebook at the time. 

After appeals from Animal Adventure Park — and from the viewers who really wanted to see that baby giraffe — YouTube reinstated April’s livestream. (“I would hope that YouTube can realize that there was no pornography or nudity on our live giraffe cam,” the zoo official harrumphed.) 

At any rate, more than a million people were watching when April’s male calf, later named Tajiri, was born on April 15, 2017. Two years later, she gave birth to another son, and then she was put on birth control. (TIL that giraffe birth control is a thing). But on April 2, 2021, the Animal Adventure Park announced that April had to be euthanized due to “worsening arthritis.” She was 20 years old.

“April the Giraffe brought joy to the millions who have watched her via the park’s Giraffe Cam, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have made the trip to her home in Harpursville, New York,” Jordan Patch, the owner of Animal Adventure Park, wrote on Facebook. “ We appreciate respect and empathy from April’s fans and the park’s supporters during this difficult time, as they grieve along with us. She will be deeply missed and fondly remembered. April, in her own special way, changed the world.” 

Goodnight, sweet princess. We’ll always have that livestream.

A version of this story appeared on the news page of Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink.

Featured image: Snakes3yes, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons