Viral Sensation April the Giraffe Dies at 20 Years Old: 'Our Hearts Are Hurting'
April the giraffe, the viral star whose live births were viewed by millions around the world, died on Friday at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. She was 20 years old.
April was euthanized due to her worsening arthritis at the recommendation of her veterinary team, the zoo said in a Facebook post.
"We grieve with her many fans, near and far, as we say goodbye to the giraffe that can be credited with making a foothold for giraffe and giraffe conservation awareness in the 21st century," the statement reads.
The post continued, "April has been one of the world's most famous animals, and in turn, has made a profound impact on giraffe conservation, education and appreciation. While her hoofprints in her yard will erode in time, the imprint she has made on the hearts of people around the world will never fade."
A statement from her veterinary team said that April began experiencing problems with her mobility last summer. While they worked hard to slow the progress of her arthritis, "the severity of her condition has been outpacing our ability to control April's comfort."
"Despite Animal Adventure Park's multi-faceted approach to mitigate April's condition, it is irreversible and advancing at a rapid rate," the team wrote. "As hard of a decision as it is, for a veterinary team and facility, it is decided that euthanasia is the most humane decision to make at this time."
April first became a viral sensation in 2017 when the internet became captivated by the livestream of a pregnant April the giraffe, pacing around her pen and waiting to give birth.
According to Google, April's YouTube stream for Tajiri's birth received more than 232 million live views, which added up to 7.6 billion minutes of live watch-time.
On the day April welcomed her baby boy to the world, more than 14 million people tuned in, with 1.2 million from around the world watching the actual birth as it happened.
At the time, these numbers made the arrival one of the top five most-watched moments for a live event ever on YouTube.
In April 2019, the famous giraffe gave birth to another calf, Azizi. Fewer watchers tuned in to the livestream of Azizi's birth, but the online event still attracted tens of thousands of animal lovers, who showered the mother giraffe with well-wishes as she welcomed her fifth baby into the world.
Azizi unexpectedly died in October 2020 at the East Texas Zoo and Gator Park after complications from a "parasitic issue."
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On Friday, Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch said April was a "precious member" of the zoo's family and their "hearts are hurting" after her death.
"April's impact on animal conservation and appreciation is both immeasurable and lasting. The loss of an animal as loved as her will be felt in our community, around the country and across the world," Patch said in a statement. "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."