April the Giraffe passes away at Animal Adventure Park

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HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (WETM) – April the Giraffe, who captivated the world during her pregnancy in 2017, has died. She was 20 years old.

Animal Adventure Park announced her passing on Friday afternoon, saying that she was euthanized due to worsening osteoarthritis discovered in July 2020.

April’s body was transported to Cornell University Veterinary School where she will be cremated. Her remains will be returned to Animal Adventure Park.

In February 2017, Animal Adventure Park began live streaming April in her pen. anxiously awaiting the birth of her calf Tajiri. Anticipation built around the world for several months as people waited for her to give birth, with the park’s YouTube livestream attracting 232 million views.

After months of waiting, April gave birth on April 15, 2017, to a baby calf standing 5.75 feet tall and weighing 129 pounds.

Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville released the following statement on April’s passing.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that Animal Adventure Park announces the tremendous loss of our beloved April the Giraffe. Euthanasia was carried out at April’s home in Harpursville this morning, due to her worsening arthritis, in accordance with the recommendations of her veterinary team. 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.

April the Giraffe became a viral sensation and household name in 2017, winning admirers around the globe as the world watched her labor and delivery with bated breath via a YouTube live stream. Since then, 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.

At the celebrated age of 20 years old, April was in her golden years, with the captive management life expectancy averaging 20-25 years, far greater than the average lifespan of 10-15 years in the wild. We credit and thank the outstanding collective care provided by the park’s veterinarians and animal care team with keeping April happy and healthy during her more than five year stay at Animal Adventure.

Both teams have made every possible effort to keep her comfortable and prolong her life while managing her condition. Over the past year, accommodations were made and treatments performed, including yard substrate changes, installation of a state-of-the-art padded barn flooring system, coupled with farrier work, dietary and medical changes. April’s most recent veterinary exam identified the acceleration of April’s condition, prompting the determination that euthanasia was the humane and appropriate course of action. Following the euthanasia, her body was escorted to the Cornell University Veterinary School by the Patch family, where a necropsy will be completed.

She will then be cremated, and her ashes will be returned to Animal Adventure Park.

Animal Adventure Park’s veterinary team released an additional statement regarding her condition over the last year.

“Beginning in the summer of 2020, the staff at Animal Adventure Park began reporting changes in April’s mobility. The park’s veterinarians radiographed April’s feet in July 2020 and noted the onset of osteoarthritis. The radiographs showed a loss of joint space and subchondral bone collapse in her left hind leg, which can be expected in a giraffe of her age. In addition to the joint supplements, the park began multi-modal management of osteoarthritis including measures such as pain medications, anti-inflammatories, hoof trimming, installation of padded flooring and dietary changes in hopes of slowing down the progression of her condition.

During each visit by the park’s veterinarians, we assessed and discussed April’s quality of life, which has remained top priority while managing her condition. Unfortunately, over time, what we saw was April increasingly shifting her weight from limb-to-limb, a continual decline in mobility and spending a lot more time laying recumbent. The most recent set of radiographs taken in early March to evaluate her condition, showed significant and progressing degeneration of the joints in her lower leg. The severity of her condition has been outpacing our ability to control April’s comfort. The March 2021 observation reported advanced osteoarthritis, interphalangeal subluxation in the left rear hoof, and lameness and angular joint abnormalities in all feet.

Relating these arthritic changes to personal pets (dogs, cats, horse) and even humans, can help us better understand and relate to the condition. Lameness and arthritis are amplified in animals as large as giraffe.

While a small dog can compensate, large species, like giraffe, can deteriorate quickly. Despite Animal Adventure Park’s multi-faceted approach to mitigate April’s condition, it is irreversible and advancing at a rapid rate. 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 joined Animal Adventure in August 2015, standing approximately 15 feet tall.

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