Harpursville, New York – Do you remember April the giraffe? In 2017, April became a viral sensation and household name, winning admirers around the globe as the world watched her labor and delivery with bated breath via a YouTube live stream.
16 million Americans watched the birth on YouTube and countless millions more on television and other social media platforms.
After a long life in giraffe terms, she died at the age of 20 at her home in Adventure Park.
“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,” the park said in a statement.
“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. 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.”
April lived a long life at Adventure Park
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,” the park said. “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.”
How did April the Giraffe Die?
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.
The Adventure Park veterinary team released the following about her condition:
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.
Quality of Life Deteriorating
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 the Giraffe brought joy to the millions who have watched her via the park’s Giraffe Cam, and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have made the trip to her home in Harpursville, New York,” said Jordan Patch, owner of Animal Adventure Park.
“To her keepers and our team here at the park, she is a precious member of our family, and while we knew this day would eventually come, our hearts are hurting. April’s impact on animal conservation and appreciation is both immeasurable and lasting,” Patch added. “The loss of an animal as loved as her will be felt in our community, around the country and across the world. We appreciate respect and empathy from April’s fans and the park’s supporters during this difficult time, as they grieve along with us. She will be deeply missed and fondly remembered. April, in her own special way, changed the world.”
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