April the viral giraffe dies due to advancing arthritis

A giraffe in rural upstate New York named April, who went viral in 2017 when the birth of her cute calf riveted viewers around the world, has died.

April became an online sensation when Animal Adventure Park live streamed her pregnancy and delivery. Sadly, she was euthanised on Friday because of advancing arthritis, the zoo said.

At least 1.2 million people watched a livestream of her giving birth to the calf, Tajiri, which was named as a result of a name-the-baby contest in the month of April that year.

“She is a precious member of our family, and while we knew this day would eventually come, our hearts are hurting,” the zoo’s owner Jordan Patch said in a statement.

The 20-year-old giraffe started showing signs of mobility problems last summer, and veterinary imaging showed she had arthritis in her feet and problems in her left hind leg, veterinarians said.

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The zoo’s vets said in a statement that animals as large as giraffes can deteriorate quickly from arthritis.

According to the zoo, April’s mobility kept declining despite joint supplements, pain medications, anti-inflammatories, padded flooring, diet changes and trimming her hoofs.

“The severity of her condition has been outpacing our ability to control April’s comfort,” they said.

Statistics on giraffe life expectancy vary. A Knoxville Tennessee zoo giraffe that was said to be the nation’s oldest was euthanised at 31 in 2019.

April carried her fourth of five calfs in 2017 at the privately owned zoo in Harpursville, and became the second most-watched livestream in YouTube history at the time.

Internet marketing experts conservatively estimate the viral content generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the park, which owners said would allow it to “grow and improve.”

“But also the money will help support our conservation efforts in Africa, so we’re actually providing tangible results for wild giraffes,” Mr Patch said in 2017.

The giraffe gave birth to one more calf following the birth of Tajiri, but the youngest calf died due to an “unexpected and unpreventable” condition in 2020.

Animal Adventure Park said that April was then put on contraceptives to retire from the breeding programme .

“April’s impact on animal conservation and appreciation is both immeasurable and lasting,” Mr Patch said Friday.

Reporting by the Associated Press

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