HARPURSVILLE, N.Y. (CBS4) - Animal Adventure Park owner Jordan Patch credits CBS Denver and our fans with making the April the giraffe cam go viral.
Patch spoke with us live on Facebook Monday morning, saying "you guys were really who we credit the camera to for actually going viral and bringing the attention on to giraffes, on to Animal Adventure, and on to conservation. So, to all your viewers in Denver, thank you."
CBS Denver began streaming April's live cam on our Facebook page on Feb. 22, where tens of thousands watched regularly for two months for April to give birth. She finally did, delivering a baby boy, Saturday morning, April 15.
In advance of our Facebook interview with Patch, hundreds of people wrote in, offering questions, many of which we did ask, including getting an update on April and Baby G's condition.
Since delivery, Patch said both mommy and son "are doing absolutely phenomenal." Baby came out at 5-feet-9-inches and 140 pounds, and has since been "progressing exactly as we'd have hoped."
Another question that came to us Monday morning was from Cindy Lewis, asking how the park came to get April.
"April was picked out for Oliver, naturally," Patch said. "We went and we met April at the prior facility she was at because they knew we were looking to pair up our young male with a female. And she wasn't the first female we looked at, I'll be honest with you. We declined another one because April really fit the bill; she was a more mature female that could show Oliver the ropes. Also for our facility, for being such a friendly animal, she was the exact ambassador that we look for in our interactive concept."
With all of the popularity and attention that she and Baby G have brought both the park and the community, Janet asked about what the park was doing to be ready for a surge in people this summer.
"Without question, we're anticipating a major jump in attendance this year, so we're mitigating possible concerns," Patch said. "We're widening our paths, we've added more rain and shade shelters, we're building a new welcome center, so we're doing what we can to make sure that the crowds are comfortable and taken care of."
And for those lucky enough to visit the park this summer, they will have an interactive and educational experience.
"We encourage our visitors to get hands on and develop that emotional connection to our animals. Everyone of them has a name, has a story, and you can see that when you're interacting here." You'll be able to get eye-to-eye with the giraffes and feed them from a deck where Patch did part of his interview with us.
Did Patch ever expect all of this to happen, for the camera to go as crazy as it did, becoming the second most-watched YouTube video ever?
"We never anticipated any sort of the viral nature that the giraffe cam took on. I go back to initially, when we put the camera up, I said 'wouldn't it be neat if 10,000 people watched her give birth?' So you can certainly understand we were underestimating the power of what we were doing."
While April and baby's live cam has certainly brought attention to the plight of giraffes in the wild, perhaps the greatest benefit has been to people.
Ava's Little Heroes, an organization founded by Patch and his wife to help sick kids and their families, has received a surge in attention, while people with mental health issues have also been able to reconnect with the world as a result of online communities that have formed as a result of the camera.
"That's pretty remarkable, and that's again one of those things that you never think of the byproducts that will occur, the residual that occurs from something like this," Patch said. "Like you mention, depression, PTSD, even suicide, were averted over the giraffes and the common bond people developed around April, the keepers, and now our baby. It's humbling, but it's nice to know that we had a positive impact not just in education but in personal lives as well."
While the park's giraffe camera went offline last week, we've not seen the last of April and baby at the Animal Adventure Park.
Patch says they'll "absolutely" stream more of April and Baby G. "We will announce some of those plans in the next couple of days. We will have the giraffe cam on certain days at certain times."
They'll also stream live cameras other animals.
"When you get this much attention worldwide, it would be a shame not to educate further. We never expected to bring the plight of giraffes in the wild to every dinner table and classroom in the world. We never expected that, but now that we have, we know the power of these web cams, so we're going to continue to put them up. They'll be on different species throughout the year for different periods of time, and we're going to use that to, number one, excite you about that animal, and then educate you on their needs."
Finally, how's the naming for Baby G progressing?
The final name, Patch says, will be announced May 1. It will be determined through online votes. For $1, you can vote for his name on NameAprilsCalf.com.
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