April the giraffe, who gave birth in 2017 in an event watched by people all over the world, has died, the New York zoo where she lived said Friday.
The giraffe, who was 20, was euthanized because of worsening arthritis that increasingly impacted her quality of life, Animal Adventure Park said in a statement. The veterinary team said it did its best to make April comfortable, but her condition got so bad the team could no longer do so.
"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 zoo in Harpursville said.
More than a million people watched on a livestream when April gave birth to a calf — a male named Tajiri but called Taj — in 2017. His arrival followed weeks of waiting; the zoo even launched a text-alert service to keep fans up to date.
In all, more than 232 million views were logged on YouTube during the weeks before and during the birth.
At one point on the day of Taj's birth, more than 1.2 million people were watching simultaneously, YouTube has said. At the time, it was in the top five most-watched live events ever on the video platform, it said.
The giraffe's veterinary team said that euthanizing April was the only humane course of action.
Last summer the park staff noticed the 15-foot-tall animal was acting differently and she was found to have osteoarthritis, the team said. April was shifting her weight from leg to leg and laying on the ground more often. The vets started treatment and management, but the most recent exam showed advanced osteoarthritis and that the irreversible condition was accelerating at a rapid rate, the zoo said.
"The severity of her condition has been outpacing our ability to control April's comfort," the veterinary team said.
Giraffes typically live 20 to 25 years in captivity, about a decade longer than in the wild, and April was 20, it said.
"While we knew this day would eventually come, our hearts are hurting," Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park, said.
April gave birth to another male calf, Azizi, in 2019. Azizi was moved to a Texas zoo, and in 2020, he died of a condition that involved a twisted gut. The zoo said the condition was entirely unexpected and unpreventable.