Over the weekend, April the giraffe broke the internet after a livestream of her giving birth at the Animal Adventure Park in New York went viral. The zoo delivery was watched at a remove by over a million people and at least one giraffe: Oliver, the father of as-yet-unnamed newborn male, who was kept on the other side of a fence. Why was Oliver not allowed to be in the room during birth? Well, there’s a much lengthier answer that has to do with best practices in animal husbandry, but the long and the short of it is that giraffes are kind crap dads.
Oliver is going to be an absentee father because that’s what his handlers demand–one remarked that male giraffes “only really care about two things—fighting and the unmentionable”–but also because it’s not in his nature to be attentive to his offspring.
The unmentionable has already been taken care of, that only leaves room for fighting. And Oliver is certainly capable of that. Though male giraffes don’t represent a major threat to their offspring, they have been known to become violent. They also sometimes steal food from their babies and baby mommas, which is total shithead move. There are some cases where the giraffe dads have combatted negative stereotypes and been present for the birth of their kid, like the Dutch giraffe birth who the dad played the role of concerned, partner and soon-to-be parent.
But, for Oliver, the risks outweigh the possible rewards, so he will continue to live his life literally separated from April and his kid. In the case of giraffes, good fences make good fathers.
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