I was equally fascinated and horrified by the obsession with the knocked-up giraffe April and the associated Animal Adventure Park “giraffe-cam” earlier this year. My Facebook newsfeed was peppered for six weeks with “She is in labor! This is it!” and my favorite comment – three weeks before the blessed event — “I know I see a foot sticking out!”
I accept people were naturally nosy curious, but this mania bordered on voyeuristic. Anyone who burned precious daylight on giraffe-watch needs to reflect on their priorities, me included.
Did anyone, for a second, doubt this big event would be memorialized on You Tube for all posterity? As research, I Googled “video giraffe giving birth” – approximately 3,200,000 hits.
Let that sink in.
(Note:When the feds come knocking, I plan to show them this blog in my defense.)
The giraffe-cam showed Oliver the baby-daddy in the background. I thought he appeared bored with the whole ordeal, while others commented how “worried and nervous he looks!” I had a fantasy April birthed an alpaca, and Maury Povich instantly materialized to film a segment of “Who’s The Daddy TV” – yes, it is a thing.
Spoiler alert: Giraffes are not endangered, and this was baby number 5 for April. This was not her first birth rodeo, and even if the fetus was 100 lbs., her exit ramp was traveled as well as Route 66. I think it is safe to assert she required no virtual doulas to pull this off (or should I say, push this out?).
My theory: Parents seized this opportunity to divert from the dreaded talk about from where babies originate; encouraging their children to watch a giraffe pop one out so they could check the box. I say this with no judgement. After all, then they can move on to less stressful conversations, like discussing the current political landscape in America. Just like parents today, my parental unit, collectively with my grandparents, avoided the topic of baby origins like the plague.
I spent my preschool years hanging out with my grandparents, who lived nearby. They lived in the shadow of downtown Houston, Texas. My grandfather, Bobby, was the third generation reared on the Chapman family farm, located in a remote corner of McLennan County, outside Hewitt, Texas. Although a successful businessman, and living an urban lifestyle, he embodied the adage “you can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”
While he was a Baylor graduate, his brother, Willis, attended Texas A&M. Willis once told me his nickname at A&M was “Country Chapman.” He clarified that if you were labeled a “country boy” at Texas A&M in 1936, that meant you were a hillbilly.
My grandfather meticulously mowed and gardened his full acre property. The house sat on a curve, so the expanse of Saint Augustine grass was vast around the front side of the house, peppered with dozens of tall pine trees, and one colossal live oak. It was better maintained than most public greenspaces.
My grandfather was an organic advocate, decades ahead of his time. I never saw a single pesticide used on any of his gardens. He fed his fantail goldfish – which grew to catfish size in a large back yard pond – oatmeal flakes.
Eggs were delivered to their home, direct from countryside, every Monday. A cheerful, aging farmer pulled up in his ancient pickup, and hand delivered a dozen eggs. In my grandfathers’ meticulous financial records, I determined he remitted $1.25 for this bounty.
I sat in the kitchen as Mama (my grandmother) would cook these prized eggs. I asked my grandfather, who I regularly accompanied to the grocery store, why he didn’t buy his eggs there.
“These are much better. I don’t trust the ones at the store,” he explained.
At the sagacious age of four, I was captivated by his cynicism of the eggs you could easily procure at the local Mini Max grocery store. Ever the inquisitor (my spawn come by it honestly), I pushed for justification.
“Evelyn, you should never eat an egg unless a rooster was involved. Do you know what I am saying?” he asked.
“Yes, Bobby. I understand,” I reassured him.
I was clueless. I didn’t understand the manufacture of eggs, babies or Cadillacs, for that matter. But I was entering Kindergarten later that year, I didn’t want the grandfather I adored to think I was a moron. Poor Bobby never intended to share quite so much over breakfast, but kids do that – take an abrupt turn in a conversation; creating opportunity for honing your aptitude for creative answers and refining your talent for diversion.
I have blogged about my sons for the last two years, so I obviously I filled the knowledge gap that remained after my chicken-based sex education.
This country boy’s granddaughter is not ashamed to disclose that I am an incurable egg-snob; I buy naturally-fertilized eggs, and I insist the origin to be Texas chickens. Before you troll me, with accusations of being an egg racist, let me expound; Texas chickens equates to the eggs didn’t travel very far and therefore, should be fresher. At least that is what I tell myself.
I checked in with April; she has her own web page, an entry on Wikipedia, and 43K followers on Twitter.
So officially, a giraffe has a larger social media presence than I do.
All for doing what hundreds of her peers were doing, but with a webcam. Obviously this is not a new strategy, but I give credit where credit is due; its application for giraffe birthing was an original twist.