April the Giraffe: Live video meets viral marketing meets cute overload

My affinity for live, streaming videos of baby animals began in 2013. It was a big year for babies. Bao Bao the Giant Panda debuted at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Lana, a cheetah at Richmond Metro Zoo, had a litter of five cubs. These live cams helped generate an awareness for the populations of these endangered species (and the zoos that care for them).

Fast-forward to 2017 and the latest live-streamed animal phenomenon is April the Giraffe, the 15-year-old leggy lady at Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY.

Last week we posted a sampling of good and bad examples of brands using live video, but this? This is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a brand using live video and building an entire campaign around it.

There was an extensive amount of hype built up around April following months of chatter of people wondering when she’d give birth and tracking her every move. But finally, on Saturday, April gave birth to a six-foot-tall male calf.

People were engrossed with the feed – 1.2 million of us to be exact – tuned into the birth. Why do I love all of this so much? I’m not sure, but I do know that someone at Animal Adventure Park is a genius, and I am green with envy.

Meeting Your Audience Where They Are

Animal Adventure Park is a seasonal park, and it isn’t fully operational in the late fall and winter months. What better way to keep your patrons involved than by posting a camera in the enclosure of one of your star attractions?

Cisco predicts that by 2020, 75% of mobile traffic will be video, and if the fascination with April was any indication of the trend toward video, that number may be on the low end. Once the hype for these things begins to crescendo, the live stream – which in this case lived on YouTube – will be accessible no matter where you were.


Cute animals are video gold, and zoos and other animal shelters are taking notice. Not only are brands turning to live video to reach their audience, in some cases, they’ve found a way to monetize their efforts.

In April’s case, Toys”R”Us craned their own neck to become a corporate sponsor – a natural fit since their mascot is Geoffrey the Giraffe. Toys”R”Us branded the video itself and embedded the feed on its website. Minutes after the calf was born, the sponsor logo updated to Babies”R”Us – are you kidding me?! Genius!

Additionally, Animal Adventure Park took hold of their own success by creating Giraffemoji, an emoji sticker app for the low price of $1.99.


Leading up to the big day, there were 150k+/- viewers on YouTube natively watching the feed at any given time. GMA got an interview outside of the enclosure. The TODAY Show gossiped about if it were an April Fools’ joke. Everyone was watching April. When she was born, even the BBC was tweeting about it!

Animal Adventure Park’s YouTube subscriber numbers increased daily to well over half a million people, often landing her in the top trending pages of YouTube.

Looking at Twitter insights from Keyhole, when April was in the final moments of giving birth, #ApriltheGiraffe had a reach of 10,502,513 and 10,582,377 impressions. Saturday at 8 a.m., there were 563,280 eyes on the live stream; at birth, 1,218,068. That’s a 116% increase in two hours.

What’s Next?

Animal Adventure Park has built upon its existing audience, which was likely hyper-local to the Harpursville area. Not only have they generated buzz and an interest in the park’s attractions, they’ve nurtured their local audience, an audience more easily converted to become a returning customer to their park.

Securing the URL NameAprilsCalf.com (in addition to ApriltheGiraffe.com and GiraffEmoji.com), Animal Adventure Park is continuing to raise funds through a naming campaign for the calf. Votes are $1 (with a $5 minimum), but it gives viewers a chance can cast their picks for the name and spelling of the newest addition to the Animal Adventure Park family. Dollars raised will be split between the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, Ava’s Little Heroes and Animal Adventure Park.

This communications geek has been giddy for weeks now. Thank you Animal Adventure Park, thank you.

Casey Prentice

A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. Her agency work has helped clients like Virginia’s Community Colleges, VCUarts and Swedish Match.

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