After thinking that I was losing my writing mascot, she has returned. April, the famous giraffe, is back on a live cam, along with mate Oliver and baby Tajiri. I can now keep up with my favorite giraffe family and their family of keepers.
Seeing their antics at Animal Adventure Park also has new meaning. This summer, I had the pleasure of meeting them in person at their home in Harpursville, New York. After an instructing stint at the Chautauqua Institution, I hopped in my car and drove three and a half hours to meet a writer friend in Binghamton, New York. It was a ladies escape weekend, featuring April.
Animal Adventure Park is located in the midst of farm country. You’d never expect to see a zoo off the narrow rural road, among rolling pastures and family farms. Yet, there it was. I could hardly contain my excitement. My friend, who wasn’t as familiar with April and her long pregnancy watch, surely thought that I was crazy.
Yes, I am crazy. One of the first things I did upon entering the park, was hit the gift shop where I adopted my own baby-sized stuffed giraffe, August Tajiri. After, we visited April and Tajiri. They were out prancing in the giraffe yard. Fans congregated on the raised deck. It was amazing to see so many admirers from all over the continent. I met a group of ladies from Nova Scotia.
I joined the throngs, purchased a handful of carrots and entered the mayhem of feeding April. April is quite a character. I never knew that a giraffe could swing her neck around to swiftly and accurately in the pursuit of carrots. She is truly a carrot-o-holic. Her addiction to the orange spears is incredible, and is to be seen to be believed. I saw her snatch a wad from a child’s hand in a split second. Considering that a giraffe could eat over 50 pounds of them in a day, she was hardly satiated.
Of course, I put a carrot in my mouth and had her take it, a form of a giraffe kiss. She is unreal.
Baby Tajiri is a sweetheart. I fed him a carrot that he gingerly ate. He is so sweet, and like his mom, friendly. The most handsome boy, I thought that he resembled his father. He has similar facial markings. He also has the same fun spirit filled with nonsense.
We met Oliver inside the giraffe barn. The space is much larger than it appears on the live web cam. I found it interesting to see in person after viewing it for months on a computer screen. The first thing that struck me about Oliver, is how tall giraffes actually are. When you are on the ground at their level, they really do tower over you. I could fit beneath his stomach, with room to spare. Oliver, “Ollie” is more aloof than April. He appears to have a mind of his own and operates n his own terms. When he feels like being social, he is. When he wants carrots, he comes to the fence to be fed by his adoring fans. When he has enough, he can appear aggressive. I can see why the keepers keep their distance from him. Their caution is understood. He is quite a regal and impressive young male. I fed him carrots, on his terms.
Animal Adventure Park is more than giraffes, though. It is a very well kept and well run animal park. The love for the animals is evident in their habitats, health and the quality of the staff. Those who work at AAP genuinely love animals. The animals appear happy and friendly. Unlike zoos, many of the animals are accessible to be petted and hand fed. It is especially a fun place for young children to instill in them a love and concern for animals and nature. The staff also provides informative talks. The one Aprils’ keeper, Allysa gave on giraffes was fascinating. It is an enjoyable place to spend a day.
Now, when I am home writing, with the giraffe cam on half of my screen, I can relive my trip to see April and her family. I can hug my stuffed August Tajiri with fond memories.