April the giraffe has been in labor at the Animal Adventure Park in New York since late February, after a 15 month pregnancy. Her due date of February 15 came and went. After her delivery slowed about a week ago, Zoo officials became concerned about her welfare.
The average lifespan of a giraffe in the wild is about 15 years, which is how old April is. While veterinarians concede that giraffes in captivity can live far longer, they say April’s advanced age added to their worry about her protracted delivery.
“A mature Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate typically labors for about two to three weeks, though we don’t consider labor active until we observe physical contractions,” said Andrew Jester, DMV. “Though this is April’s fourth pregnancy, it’s the first we’ve observed here at Animal Adventure Park. While we don’t have firsthand experience with her other deliveries, her recent behavior has raised some concerns.”
In an unprecedented move, Zoo officials and handlers made the difficult decision to relocate the 1,800-pound giraffe to a temporary enclosure at Natural Lands Trust’s 1,263-acre ChesLen Preserve in Coatesville, PA. The pen is being monitored round-the-clock by trained staff and volunteers. The hope is that this more natural environment will re-stimulate April’s slowing delivery.
“While we are usually focused on native wildlife here at Natural Lands Trust, we are delighted to be able to offer our support to April and her team of dedicated caregivers,” said Molly Morrison, president of Natural Lands Trust and a member of the Philadelphia Zoo’s Board of Directors. “It just shows how fortuitous our community connections are. Now, we’ll all just watch and wait… and keep our fingers crossed for the safe delivery of April’s calf.”
April’s handlers are doing more than just watching and waiting, however.
Remember that “old wives’ tale” about eating spicy food to induce labor? Turns out, there may be some truth in it after all! April’s dietary team has introduced a new feed laced with capsaicin, the an active component of chili peppers.
“Though the gestation and delivery periods are longer than those of a human, there are similarities in terms of labor stimulants between giraffes and homo sapiens,” said Dr. Jester.
For now, we are asking visitors to respect April’s privacy. Her health and welfare is the primary focus. Stay tuned for updates!
(Happy April Fools Day!)