By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo

Every couple of years, the anticipation of the birth of an endangered animal goes viral. For example, April, the giraffe and Mei Xiang, the panda both took the Internet by storm with the birth of their newborns.

“I watched the birth of both animals. I am not too much of an animal person, but I was curious to see how the mothers would treat the babies after they gave birth,” Makayla Johnson, a junior journalism major, said. “I know that animals are often very protective of their young so I was interested in watching a mother’s immediate reaction to her offspring.”

Over 150 million people tuned in to watch April’s live-stream since it was first uploaded in February. The Animal Adventure Park made YouTube history by becoming the second most live-viewed channel, according to ABC7 News.

April, a 15-year-old giraffe, delivered her fourth calf on April 15 at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York. The calf weighed 129 pounds and was around 6 feet  tall. More than a million people watched the delivery live.

Four years ago, thousands watched as Mei Xiang gave birth to Bao Bao at the National Zoo on their Panda Cam. Bao Bao was born August 23, 2013, and weighed about 4.5 pounds. Mei Xiang was given to the United States by China under the Giant Panda Cooperative Research and Breeding Agreement.

“I paid a lot of attention to the news during the birth of Bao Bao because his mother was here under the agreement China and America made,” Morgan Jones, a junior criminology major, said. “This symbolized a lot to me because in high school I studied environmental technology, which focused primary on the extinction of animals. When we lose such rare animals, we are losing the opportunity to learn more about our environment.”

According to the Smithsonian, the agreement was a commitment between the U.S. and China to protect the endangered specie. Today, fewer than 2,000 panda bears exist. As a result of the agreement, Bao Bao left the U.S. on Feb. 22 because all panda cubs must return to China before they are 4 years old.

The Animal Adventure Park also used the birth of April the giraffe’s calf to spread awareness of how endangered giraffes are. Giraffes have decreased by 40 percent over the last 30 years and are currently viewed as  one of the most “vulnerable to extinction” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The birth of both animals have been a key moment in spreading awareness about endangered species.

The Animal Adventure Park launched a monetary naming contest for the calf. They intend to use the donated funds toward giraffe conservation efforts and projects to improve the park. To join the contest, participants can submit a name to http://nameaprilscalf.com/.  Each participant can submit up to five names for $1.

Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Animal Adventure Park on Facebook.

Oluwatomike Adeboyejo is a junior journalism major and can be reached at tm.adeboyejo@gmail.com.

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