KNOXVILLE - Loyal followers of April the giraffe are connecting online and creating a community in East Tennessee.
The live stream of April, a pregnant giraffe at New York's Animal Adventure Park, started about three weeks ago. Ever since, people have anxiously been waiting for her to give birth.
Crystal Gibson, who lives in Knoxville, is one of those people. She has been watching the live stream since the beginning.
"I'm slightly obsessed, maybe a little bit," she said.
As Gibson started watching more and more, she noticed that some of the same people were continuing to chat every day about updates with April.
"It's just kind of part of what I do now," she added. "It's become part, kind of routine. The anticipation is the big thing and the connection."
She's connected so much with other people that she wanted to create a space for all of them to talk in one place. She founded the group on Facebook "Friends of April the Giraffe and WBIR." The group now has hundreds of members from all 50 states and beyond, she said.
"I mean, it's literally brought people from all over the world together over something," Gibson said. "There's a commonality there that we wouldn't have had before."
Anna Degnan and Katy Elliott are two members of that group who met in person for the first time Wednesday night. The live stream and their fascination with April brought them together as friends online, but they decided to meet face to face.
"I guess I just became addicted like everybody else did," Elliott said. "You know, fell in love with America's sweetheart, Miss April, and then the friendships started."
They love watching April's quirks, habits, and making shapes out of her spots. Elliott said she can sometimes spot the state of Tennessee among April's spots.
Degnan and Elliott are both on edge waiting for the moment April gives birth.
"I take my phone to bed with me," Elliott said. "You know, I have my tablet, and finally yesterday, after three weeks, I learned how to set up my YouTube on the TV."
As for names for April's calf, Elliott and Degnan said one comes to mind after being part of the community April helped create.
"Unity, that's the big one, how she's united people all over the world," Elliott said.
It's still not clear when April will give birth, but for members of the East Tennessee community watching and waiting for the big moment, some say they have plans to continue their friendships beyond the live stream.
© 2017 WBIR.COM