April the giraffe has been expecting a baby for more than a year, but it wasn't until near the end of her very long pregnancy that people all over the world started to notice her.
The overdue giraffe at Harpursville, New York's Animal Adventure Park has been the star of a livestream since early February, with hundreds of thousands of viewers watching her stand in her pen with her bulging belly. It's been an opportunity ripe for monetization.
In addition to the spoofs, conspiracy theories and plenty of online chatter (she has her own hashtag #GiraffeWatch), April now has her own website, crowdfunding campaign, emoji collection for purchase, sponsorships and official merchandise galore.
A DoubleTree hotel is even offering an "exclusive April the giraffe overnight package" in nearby Binghamton that includes park admission and "giraffe perks." Here's how she became a moneymaking dream.
Big money for a small zoo
The park has brought in almost $100,000 through GoFundMe. Big live cam sponsorships, like this week's from massive toy company, Toys R Us, must be lucrative on top.
A spokeswoman for the store said in an email they're "thrilled" to support the zoo and their conservation efforts, adding, "April’s baby is something we can all embrace!" It's also nice to embrace the more than 200,000 viewers watching the livestream on a Friday afternoon, especially with the company's logo very visible on screen.
The park's spokesman, Stephen Donnelly, meanwhile, insisted that the money is going towards giraffe conservation efforts. "It's good to give awareness to giraffes," he said in a phone call. "All the money is going to good causes." But before any dollars go to any organizations fighting the decline of wild giraffes in Africa, all the money raised and coming in from products and partnerships goes to the Animal Adventure Park. The zoo owners will then allocate where the cash goes.
Zoo owner Jordan Patch, who bought the park in 2013, is all about raising money for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and his own personal charity event, Ava's Little Heroes, for his young daughter with a medical condition. There's also, of course, money going toward upkeep of the park itself, specifically for improvements to the giraffe barn and deck. The zoo also plans on installing a permanent "giraffe cam" since April's livestream has proved more than popular.
This money is all coming in while the zoo is closed for the season — so admission ticket sales, on-site concessions and gifts haven't even come into play for the zoo's bottom line yet.
Image: animal adventure park
Third-parties cashing in
The park isn't the only business raking it in during April's pregnancy. Animal feed, hotel, web and merchandise companies are making some cash too, even if they are giving an unspecified portion back to the park and indirectly to charity organizations.
On the official website dedicated to all things April — created at the end of February and provided by FreshySites, a web design company based in nearby Binghamton, New York — you can inquire about sponsoring April the giraffe.
Earlier this month Mazuri, an exotic pet food company, had its logo on the livestream. Now the company is listed in the streaming details on YouTube as the "official feed company of Animal Adventure!" with a link to its website and details about the company gifting April food after she gives birth (eventually).
Image: Animal adventure park giraffe cam
If an emoji of a calf dropping from April is what you want, Moji, an emoji-making company based near the zoo, has got you covered. The company created giraffe emoji of April and her future offspring, available for $1.99 through their downloadable app.
The profits from the emoji app are apparently going back to April, her mate, Oliver, and the new calf. "We plan on continuously updating the app to help sustain their park and raise preservation awareness," CEO Oliver Camilo wrote in an email. Fun fact: April is more popular than pop singer Zayn Malik's emoji, Camilo said. That's a lot of giraffe emoji downloads.
Then there's the merch: T-shirts, sweatshirts, blankets, hats and the very popular plush toy version of April. The company handling the products and sales is also a nearby online merchant based only 20 minutes away from the Animal Adventure Park.
Image: April the giraffe
The imminent birth — Friday's update strongly indicated that the calf should be here by the end of the weekend — will have its own film crew coming in and will no doubt break the internet when the end of the longest pregnancy is caught on camera.
Once the calf is born, a new batch of business opportunities come into play. Already media networks are vying to be the official group to release the calf's name, Donnelly said. A name contest will be held and "one lucky network" will be the official sponsor of the moment it's announced. Already the zoo is receiving hundreds of thousands of name suggestions. It's a big deal.
The upstate New York park doesn't re-open for the season until mid-May, but Donnelly said it's prepared to handle the potential onslaught of visitors who will want to see the viral sensation and her newborn.
A big winner in all this is the local business community. April and her expected calf are going to bring people to the rural area that isn't usually a visitor destination. Donnelly pointed out that all the April attention "helps local businesses and local organizations," as seen with the many local connections jumping on the April train. Just look at the search increase for the small zoo.
Until opening day, April will keep pushing out the views, sponsorships and T-shirts, even if she's taking her time to push out this calf. Make no mistake, this is a cash giraffe.