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April the Giraffe Welcomes Much-Anticipated Calf While 1.2 Million People Watch Online

(CNN) — Before an online audience of more than a million viewers, April the giraffe gave birth to a male calf Saturday at a New York zoo, ending weeks of proverbial pacing by animal lovers in a virtual worldwide waiting room.

April is one of the most popular residents at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. Fans have kept up with her for weeks as she anticipated the birth of her fourth not-so-little bundle of joy.

After a 16-month gestation period, the wait finally ended with the calf’s debut in a livestream from the zoo. The gestation period is average for the world’s tallest animals.

The 15-year-old giraffe delivered her calf shortly before 10 a.m. EDT in an enclosed pen at the zoo in Harpursville, a rural upstate village about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of New York City. The mama giraffe tenderly licked her calf, which began to slowly pick its head up from the floor of the pen. About 45 minutes after it was born, the calf stood on its wobbly legs for the first time while mom helped keep her baby steady.

At least 1.2 million people watched the Adventure Park’s YouTube streaming of the event . A logo on the feed quickly changed from ToysRUs to BabiesRUs following the birth.

The proud papa, a 5-year-old giraffe named Oliver, watched from an adjacent pen. This is his first offspring.

The privately owned zoo began livestreaming from April’s enclosure in February. People around the world have been tuning in daily.

April has her own website and even an apparel line. A GoFundMe fundraiser page that initially set a goal of $50,000 sat at more than $125,000 on Saturday morning. The money will be used for the care of the animals.

A contest will be held to decide on a name for the calf.

The weight of the newborn is unknown, but a calf at birth is usually about 6 feet tall and weighs a whopping 100 to 150 pounds. Calves start walking about half an hour after birth.

April will raise the calf, with weaning expected to take between six to 10 months. Animal Adventure Park will hold a contest to name the calf.

The birth comes at a dire time for giraffes, whose numbers have plummeted over the past three decades — from more than 150,000 to fewer than 100,000, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Giraffes are in the process of a “silent extinction,” experts reported last year.