It is true to say that the advent of the internet brought the chance for users to witness all manner of weird and wonderful new sights in the comfort of their own homes. In early 2017 a sizable slice of the online world was enthralled by a very novel experience – the live streaming of a giraffe enduring pregnancy. One woman keeping an eye on the developing situation was South Carolina’s Erin Dietrich. She was heavy with her fourth child at the time, and the expectant elongated African mammal inspired the mom to put on a brave face.
Dietrich lives and works as a photographer in the vacation city of Myrtle Beach, SC. Indeed, the 30-year-old’s dedicated Facebook community page is full of informal family portrait shots. She met her husband and the father of her own four-strong brood, 31-year-old Scott, when she was just a teenager. Dietrich celebrated the fact in May 2018, writing, “16-year-old me picked a real gem,” in a Facebook update to mark the pair’s 11-year wedding anniversary.
The mom continued, “It’s been a wild, crazy, not-always-easy road, but there isn’t anyone else I’d rather do this life with.” In addition, Dietrich also called Scott “a true role model,” and declared that he was “the best father I could ever dream of” to their quartet of kids.
It is fair to say that it has been a fruitful marriage, which has seen the happy couple welcome a daughter, eight-year-old Brynn, and three sons, Landon, five, Blake, three, and the one-year-old baby of the family, Porter. And it was just before the birth of their youngest child that the internet went crazy for April the giraffe, who was also building on her own brood. Indeed, perhaps Dietrich over-identified with the long-necked New York resident, who coincidently just happened to be gearing up for baby number four.
And what a famous birth it turned out to be. Jordan Patch, owner of the self-explanatory attraction Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY, had decided to drum up some publicity when he realized that his April was expecting a calf. The zoo man started a live stream so that the online world could follow April through the final stages of her 14-month pregnancy. The feed hit the web in late February, 2017, and proved an instant hit, drawing in more than 20 million viewers in just two days.
But the watching millions would have to learn how to wait patiently for the baby giraffe’s arrival. April seemed far from ready to go into labor anytime soon. Instead, the live stream from Harpursville showed the expectant mom pacing around her enclosure, awaiting the onset of her calf. Later, Patch would admit that he had not quite judged April’s conception timeline correctly, which meant that he had started the video coverage prematurely.
Needless to say, this delay left some internet denizens feeling distinctly antsy. The more impatient among the online community demanded to know when the live feed would show the beautiful birth Patch had promised. And, nearing the endgame of her own gestation time, Dietrich was one of those who tuned in to the Harpursville stream. In fact, as she later told People magazine, it was her own pregnancy pains that brought her to April’s video show in the first place.
In April 2017 Dietrich told the periodical, “Weeks prior, I just could not sleep because of pregnancy insomnia and so I just became obsessed with watching April the giraffe to see if she had her baby.” But these hours viewing the live stream from the Animal Adventure Park must have triggered something in Dietrich, and subsequently inspired her to visit another website.
Indeed, the heavily pregnant mom sought light relief by logging on to Amazon. And once she was on the retail site, Dietrich sourced and ordered a silly accessory for herself – a giraffe mask. Determined not to be outdone by April, when the prop arrived, Dietrich slipped it on and then accessed her Facebook account to begin a live stream of her very own.
In the resulting eight-minute clip, the mom-to-be acted just like April. Parading her pregnant belly with her new Amazon purchase proudly in place, Dietrich paced around just like the New York giraffe. But the human went further than April could by also killing time relaxing in a rocking chair and rubbing her enormous bump.
And, just like her animal inspiration, Dietrich’s live stream quickly caught the attention of internet users everywhere. The photographer’s Facebook clip has since been viewed a stunning 32 million times and has garnered some 300,000 reactions. “OMG, this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” wrote one appreciative and amused social media user.
But Dietrich did not stop there. When she went into labor in March 2017, the mom-to-be took her animal accessory along to the delivery room. The maternity doctors and nurses would not be the only ones wearing masks this time around. With her giraffe face on, Dietrich went live on Facebook once again.
For this sequel, no fewer than four million people enjoyed the sight of Dietrich as Giraffe Woman. They must have admired the Myrtle Beach mom’s neck – lying disguised as another species in the comfort of a hospital bed, awaiting her baby’s arrival. Indeed, Facebook users loved this clip too, with one follower gushing, “I love your fun spirit and sense of humor! Wishing you a quick and safe delivery and another beautiful baby to join your family!”
Another Facebook aficionado added their grateful comments under the video update. “You are the most awesome woman,” they exclaimed. “I am 70 years old and don’t find much to laugh and be happy about… until YOU. Thank you and God bless you, your new baby and your family.”
Not long after her second appearance as Giraffe Woman, Dietrich successfully delivered Porter on March 8, 2017. And the next month was an apt time for April to welcome her long-awaited son too. Of course, the giraffe’s labor was broadcast across the internet to the animal’s multitude of fans. And plenty of those who had been following April’s pregnancy had lots to say about her finally delivering her calf.
After the footage of the birth had been hosted on YouTube, one user of the video sharing website commented, “They should name [the calf] Eternity… because it took an eternity to finally get here! Worth the wait, though.” And many other internet users seemed to agree – more than 15 million people viewed the giraffe calfing clip.
But, surprisingly, the double Spring 2017 deliveries did not bring the two new moms’ story to an end. Just after April had given birth, Dietrich and Porter packed their bags for a journey from South Carolina to the Animal Adventure Park in New York. Mother and son were going on a very special play date with the famous giraffe and her son.
In late April, Dietrich took to Facebook again to give details of the trip. “It was so cool to be able to go to the zoo and meet April and her baby,” she said in a further video update. Later, in the same clip, she informed viewers that she and the rest of her family would return to see April again over the summer.
The photographer also took time to reflect back on Giraffe Woman’s unlikely origin story. “It’s just been surreal,” Dietrich admitted. “I still don’t know – I’m like – ‘How did this all happen?’ Because I was, like, 100 weeks pregnant, dancing around in a $16 Amazon giraffe mask.”
However, one thing that Dietrich did know was that her silly live stream would be a great memory to share with her youngest son one day. The mom summed up, “We’re so thankful that we have this story to tell Porter and all the people we’ve met and things we’ve gotten to do because of this overnight viral video.”