Millions wait, and wait, for April the giraffe to give birth

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Media caption,

April the giraffe's every movement, however dull, is being broadcast

It has swiftly become the most anticipated birth since Prince George made his appearance in 2013.

In fact, the media spotlight is arguably greater.

There were only a few hundred photographers and well-wishers lined up outside the door of an exclusive London hospital's doors three and a half years ago, while this expectant mother is being closely watched at any one time by tens of thousands of people.

The only difference? The much-longed-for newborn is a giraffe - and one which is not afraid to take its time making an entrance.

Image source, Animal Adventure Park
Image caption,
While excitement is high for the actual birth, the live stream is not the most exciting piece of footage you will see this year

When the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, almost 200 miles north-west of New York, decided to put a live stream of mum-to-be April's pen on to YouTube in February, they were hoping to inspire the community by capturing the birth on camera.

Although it will be a fourth calf for April, 15, it is a first for the zoo, and so they were understandably excited. But it's unlikely they anticipated the level of interest.

As of Friday morning, UK time, the latest live stream - set up on 24 February - has had almost 20 million views, with the accumulative time racked up by viewers equating to a somewhat staggering 1,036 years.

This means millions of people have spent a total of millennium - the same amount of time it took the world to go from the Dark Ages to putting a man on the moon - watching literally nothing happen.

This is despite promises that the baby giraffe could turn up at any minute - and people are starting to get a little twitchy.

Image source, Twitter/@DavidElderTV
Image source, Twitter/@iamsoerin

"The timeline is obviously wrong a little bit wrong," conceded Jordan Patch, the park's owner, in a Facebook Live video earlier this week.

"We observed breeding behaviour in about mid-October (2015). It does not mean just because they bred, they conceived.

"If anything, maybe we missed a cycle. Cycles are every 17 days, so maybe 17 days past what we thought was the due date. Or maybe 34 days after that."

In the same video, Mr Patch also made an impassioned plea to the thousands of people emailing the zoo with their concerns - which ranged from what happened if the calf was in the wrong position, to what April was being fed - to stop writing in, as they simply did not have the manpower to cope with the influx.

The zoo has also been hit with other problems since starting the live feed. Notably, the video was removed from YouTube after complaints it was sexually explicit. After it was put back up, a spokesman for the park blamed the complaint on extreme animal rights activists.

There is of course an upside to all this publicity: a Go-Fund Me page has raised $25,725 (£21,039) for the new family - including first time dad Oliver, five - in just seven days.

But while the world waits for April's calf to finally turn up - and after a 15-month gestation period, one can only imagine she is among the most keen for it to be over - another giraffe decided to take its opportunity.

Dobby arrived at Denver Zoo on Tuesday, taking keepers somewhat by surprise. They had only recently realised mum Kipele was pregnant - she had been on birth control.

Image source, Twitter/@DenverZoo

But the giraffe - who was only five feet (1.52m) tall and 73 pounds (33kg) at birth - has not had the easiest start to life, needing a plasma infusion in order to boost his immune system.

April's calf is expected to be as tall as six feet (1.82m) and 150 pounds (68kg) when he or she finally arrives.

However, when that will be is anyone's guess...

Image source, Facebook/Animal Adventure Park