OK, I’ll admit it.
When I found out my mother watched an eagles nest in Fort Myers, Fla., for days, I called her crazy. Turns out, it wasn’t just her.
An Eagle Cam live stream, which KSDK 5 reported was set up in September 2012, had broadcast mother eagle Harriet lay two eggs. Every morning, while reading this newspaper and drinking her coffee, my mother, Susan, would sit at our computer and watch for either the eggs to hatch or watch the adult eagles prepare for hatching.
Harriet and her partner, M15, took turns sitting on the eggs until they felt movement in them. Once they hatched, I figured that would be the end of it.
I was wrong. On Dec. 29, 2016, one of the two eggs hatched — that of E9, as the eaglet became known. The occupant of the second egg must have died. Harriet and M15 appeared at the nest simultaneously as they switched off caring and feeding E9. I’ve watched M15 bring new straw and twigs to add to their nest.
But since then, I’ve found myself riveted to a live giraffe cam from Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y.
April, a 15-year-old giraffe at the park, is ready to have her fourth calf. Veterinarians at the park assumed she would have had the calf by the end of February, but we’re still patiently waiting.
Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months, but there is no exact timetable for the birth. Park officials have admitted they could be off by one or two mating cycles — every 17 days.
The cam runs 24/7, so viewers can watch April eat, sleep and be a giraffe. A few times a day, viewers can see the zoologists at the zoo refresh the food, clean out the pen or let April and soon-to-be-dad Oliver outside. Usually the zoologists will wave to those watching.
I’ve been watching at all different times and each time there have been at least 40,000 people on the stream, according to YouTube numbers.
Once in the morning and once in the evening, park staff will hold a live chat. I’m astounded by who is watching this animal. Sometimes someone will pop in and say where they are from. I’ve seen Alaska, London and Bangkok. I usually watch April on my phone until I fall asleep. By that time, folks from the other side of the world are coming on and chatting about doing the same thing my mother’s done — read the paper, drink coffee and watch the animal. I’m so nervous when I wake up that I’ll have missed the birth.
When I wake up, I check the cam. If I’m using my laptop, I will have a tab open in the background in case you can hear commotion signalling the birth. It’s an obsession.
When born, the calf will weigh around 150 pounds and will be about 6 feet tall.
I know it’s big among my friends because I see several social media posts about it daily. Typically, it’s “C’mon, April” or “This giraffe is waiting until the camera is turned off.”
We’ve all become animal stalkers. The park has said they’ll leave the camera on so viewers can watch April wean the calf. The park is even going to have a contest for the naming of the newborn.
Once weaned, the calf will be transferred to another facility to keep from in-breeding.
I’m also planning on taking the 90-minute ride to the park in the summer and hopefully get to meet the little one.
I’m just so invested in this giraffe and the calf, who isn’t here yet, that I think I can understand where my mom is coming from (just don’t tell her that).
To watch April, visit tinyurl.com/zaxcrh3.