News outlets are confirming the death of a tragic, viral internet figure: April the giraffe. She was exposed to the world during her most vulnerable, intimate moments. You might have seen her giving birth in a video, as her pregnancy was shamelessly broadcast over a livestream run by a New York tourist trap called Animal Adventure Park. She famously gave birth to Azizi and other calves who were then shipped to other shoddy roadside zoos around the country, where some of them have also since died.
But the greatest tragedy here isn’t that April died—it’s that she never knew a life without gawping spectators or livestream cameras, and neither will the babies who were taken from her.
Who Was April the Giraffe?
Animal Adventure Park is an unaccredited roadside zoo with a history of violating minimal animal welfare laws, and it repeatedly used April’s pregnancies and births over the years to drum up word-of-mouth support for its shady operation.
Consider the following:
- Animal Adventure Park claims to be breeding giraffes to help with conservation efforts, but none of April’s babies will be released into nature. Those who are still alive all live at roadside zoos.
- While the facility announced that it would no longer breed April, it has replaced her with another female, Johari, and announced that she may be pregnant.
- The roadside zoo made money by exploiting April and her babies at every turn, and it’s now doing the same with Johari. It even charged people money to submit name suggestions for her babies and to receive text messages about her labor.
- The facility keeps giraffes in barren, sawdust-filled pens. They don’t have the opportunity to engage in natural types of behavior—such as roaming ranges of up to 1,200 square miles, forming complex relationships in large social groups, and browsing for leaves and fruits on tall trees.
- Animal Adventure Park isn’t an accredited facility. It is governed only by the bare minimum standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act and has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for numerous violations of even those requirements.
- Captive giraffes are predisposed to a wide variety of health problems because of substandard conditions and improper diets, which are frequently seen at roadside zoos such as Animal Adventure Park.
As if live-streaming a mother’s vulnerable, intimate moments of giving birth weren’t distasteful enough, Animal Adventure Park keeps breeding baby giraffe after baby giraffe—all of whom will endure a lifetime of confinement.
How many giraffes have to suffer so that Animal Adventure Park gets some social media followers? Azizi wasn’t even 2 years old when he died of gastrointestinal disease, like so many other captive giraffes. PETA is calling on the park to stop its greedy breeding cycle and urging everyone who cares about wildlife to avoid exploitative roadside zoos like lives depend on it—because they do.”
—PETA Foundation Supervising Veterinarian Dr. Heather Rally
The Dark Side of Breeding Giraffes Like April for Entertainment
Roadside zoos’ captive-breeding activities do nothing to help conserve giraffe populations in nature. April’s surviving calves will never be released into their natural habitats, and although female giraffes often naturally stay with their mothers for their entire life, all of April’s offspring were taken from her before reaching 19 months old—some of them at just a few weeks old—and most have been sent to other roadside zoos.
Studies show that allowing humans to come into direct contact with imperiled species—as in the interactions that are promoted at Animal Adventure Park—can undermine legitimate conservation efforts by causing the public to believe that the species may not actually be in jeopardy.
Here’s What’s Wrong With Keeping Giraffes at Roadside Zoos
Being confined to a roadside zoo is no life at all for fragile African giraffes, who have prematurely died by the dozens in captivity. Giraffes used for money-making roadside zoo attractions often face the following issues:
- They experience distressing transportation.
- They don’t receive adequate veterinary treatment or even basic care.
- They’re fed an imbalanced diet.
- They’re predisposed to peracute mortality syndrome, a term describing sudden, mysterious death.
- They exhibit abnormal behavior, such as pacing.
- They’re exposed to temperatures that their bodies aren’t suited for.
- They’re separated from other giraffes they’ve bonded with—all for breeding and other management purposes.
Subjecting animals to a lifetime at a roadside zoo means forcing them to endure a lifetime of misery—and possibly a premature death.
What You Can Do to Help Giraffes Like April and Azizi
Animals are not ours to use for entertainment. Stay away from roadside zoos that exploit animals for profit, and discourage your friends and family members from sharing content online that demeans animals.