NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Today marks the first birthday of Tariji, the baby calf whose birth to mom April The Giraffe kept more than a million people rapt watching her birth countdown webcam.
The viral sensation was streamed online for weeks from the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y. as fans eagerly awaited the birth.
At least 1.2 million people watched the park’s YouTube streaming of the event.
“Certainly a baby giraffe is a big deal for any facility that produces one, but for the world to be standing by watching, tuning in from birth to first birthday, we never anticipated that,” said Jordan Patch, owner of the park.
Park zoo keepers Alyssa and Corey held a naming contest and chose the Swahili name Tajiri, meaning hope and confidence
Besides the cuteness factor, April’s baby was important for animal conservation. The giraffe population has declined by 40 percent in the last three decades, making the species vulnerable to extinction.
“Hope is something that Tajiri has not only brought you guys as a community globally now but it is a hope for giraffes. We have been able to give giraffes a voice, we’re losing giraffes at an incredibly fast rate and we have given this species a hope,” Alyssa said. “We are confident that we can move into the future where we have giraffes.”