During the first few months of 2017, millions of people worldwide watched in anticipation, and at times in frustration, as April the giraffe prepared to give birth. Viewers took to social media to ask the Animal Adventure Park, where she lived, hard-hitting questions such as "Do giraffes lay eggs?" and "How long can giraffes be pregnant for?" Although the internet sensation lasted a few short months, for many it felt like years.
April welcomed a healthy male calf on April 15, 2017, after a 15-month pregnancy. And if that seems long, here are some other surprisingly lengthy pregnancies in the animal kingdom, according to National Geographic.
Known for their strong motherly instincts and protective nature, African elephants have the longest-known gestation period among mammals, lasting around 22 months.
Based on laboratory studies published in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology, the average gestation period for the frilled shark is 3.5 years, and it's one of the few shark species to give birth to live young rather than lay eggs. The litter size for this shark ranges from two to 10 offspring.
Similar to the frilled shark, the Alpine salamander gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs, and its gestation period can last between two and four years, one of the longest pregnancies among animals.
The gestation period for giraffes is about 15 months, and according to National Geographic, they're one of the few large mammals that can get pregnant again while nursing their young.
Unlike their spider relatives, scorpions give birth to live young and, depending on the species, their gestation period can vary: Emperor scorpions are pregnant from seven to nine months, whereas the Opisthacanthus asper is typically pregnant for 18 months.
According to National Geographic, researchers studied a deep-sea octopus off the central California coast who guarded her eggs for 4.5 years, the longest developmental period known for any organism. Scientist speculate that the long development cycle is due to slow metabolism brought on by colder temperatures. Researchers studied this octopus for nearly 5 years, and after her young hatched, the mother died. The deep-sea octopus is extremely protective of its young, oftentimes not even leaving eggs nor eating food to ensure its offspring are safe from predators.
Extremely social animals, killer whales live in groups consisting of two to 15 individuals. The gestation period typically lasts between 15 and 18 months, and once the calf is born, it is surrounded by plenty of protection and lots of family members.