HARPURSVILLE — The calf-bearing years are over for the most famous former inhabitant of the Catskill Game Farm.
April the giraffe has been put on birth control.
The beloved giraffe, who lived at the Catskill Game Farm until it closed in 2006, has become an internet sensation, with 1.2 million people tuning in to watch her pregnancy and labor as she gave birth to Tajiri, a male, back in April 2017. Then she did it again on March 16 of this year when another male, later named Azizi, was bowrn. More than 300,000 viewers watched that labor and birth on the park’s Giraffe Cam. At just three months old, Azizi already stands just shy of 7-and-a-half-feet tall.
“His growth rate is exponential, and he is already consuming solids, which is quite promising, showing his independence,” Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park, where April and her calves live, announced in a video this week. “He will probably wean sooner rather than later.”
Tajiri and Azizi were April’s fourth and fifth calves.
But now, at the age of 17, April is hanging up her hat and this week was put on birth control. The decision to remove April from the facility’s propagation program was made by Patch in conjunction with April’s veterinarian, Dr. Tim Slater.
“Last week, as a team, we decided it was time for April to retire,” Patch said. “She has done her purpose, and that is to produce some beautiful, healthy calves in her lifetime.”
April, who is 15 feet tall, has lived at Animal Adventure Park, near Binghamton, for the past four years. She was born in Catskill in 2002 and moved to another facility in upstate New York when the Game Farm closed in 2006. In September 2015 she found a new home at Animal Adventure Park, where she has lived ever since.
Giraffes raised in captivity have a life span of roughly the early to late 20s.
Both Tajiri and Azizi were fathered by April’s mate, Oliver, nicknamed “Ollie,” who is now seven years old.
While April will no longer breed, Patch said, she will continue to work for education and conservation initiatives at the park, and will remain on exhibit.
Giraffes are listed as “vulnerable” to extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, which identifies the status of animal, fungi and plant species, and assesses conservation efforts. An estimated 68,293 mature giraffes live in the wild at the present time, according to the report.
Animal Adventure Park is home to five reticulated giraffes, also known as Somali giraffes. In the wild, the reticulated giraffe is found predominantly in Kenya, with small populations living in southern Somalia and southern Ethiopia, according to the website for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. An estimated 8,700 reticulated giraffes remain in the wild today, according to the foundation, which is down from approximately 31,000 in 1998.
“Every giraffe species and subspecies is in trouble,” Patch said in an earlier interview. “For reticulated giraffes, while they are not endangered at this time, they are quickly moving up the list. Populations have plummeted by 40% in the last three decades.”
Now that April will no longer breed and has been placed on contraceptives, she has been moved to a new barn where she will reside with two of her offspring, Tajiri and his little brother, Azizi, and will be cared for in her senior years. Oliver, her former mate, has a new roommate — Johari, a 14-year-old female giraffe. Patch said Johari is “in perfect condition and viable and ready” for the park’s propagation program.