6 Founding Members of the Internet Zoo
Some of the biggest internet sensations have been animals. If the world wide web had a zoo, who would be the founding members? These six, presented in no particular order, would be at the top of the list.
1. Badgers Badgers Badgers
The flash animation Badgers was created by Jonti Picking of Weebl's Stuff. It was first published in September of 2003. The popularity of Badgers landed Picking a job with MTV Europe, for which he produced the cartoon series Weebl and Bob. There are now a host of badger derivatives for all occasions: zombie badgers, Badgers on a Plane, Big Ass Badgers, soccer badgers, a Harry Potter version, and Baby Badgers, featuring the plush badgers you can buy.
2. Dramatic Prairie Dog
A 5-second video entitled Dramatic Chipmunk appeared on YouTube in the summer of 2007 and was immediately spread across the web. Further investigation revealed that the animal was actually a prairie dog that had appeared on the Japanese TV show Hello! Morning. The editing and addition of a dramatic crescendo made it "The best 5 second clip on the internet." The original video soon garnered 12 million views (and over 18,000 YouTube comments), and dozens of copies and remixes gained millions more. The popularity of this little guy faded fast as the web was oversaturated rapidly. There's only so much mileage you can get out of a 5-second clip, no matter how funny.
3. Viking Kittens
Viking Kittens is a flash animation created by Joel Veitch of Rathergood.com in 2002. A pair of kittens sail their longboats and flash their weapons to "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. Viking Kittens disappeared from his site and are mentioned nowhere at all at Rathergood.com now, although you can find them in many other locations. The only reason ever mentioned is that the kittens used too much bandwidth, but there might be a licensing problem with the Led Zeppelin song. In any case, Veitch can't be blamed for wanting to promote songs he wrote himself, of which there are plenty.
4. Hamster Dance
Deidre LaCarte designed the Hamster Dance in 1998 while an art student in Canada. It was a bid to draw traffic to her website, which, um, worked. The inspiration was her own hamster, Hampton Hamster. The song behind the 9-second loop is "Whistle Stop", performed by Roger Miller in the Disney movie Robin Hood. The web page drew thousands of visitors a day in 1999, which at the time made it the number one destination on the internet. The hamsters elicited giggles for a minute, then annoyance as they were emailed around the world (and still are). Several Hamster Dance songs have been recorded and became minor hits in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Hamster dance spinoffs found their way onto five albums (so far). There are many redesigns and new versions of the Hamster Dance at the official site.
5. Oolong the Pancake Bunny
Oolong is the name of the rabbit in the picture captioned "I have no idea what you're talking about... so here's a bunny with a pancake on its head." Beginning in 1999, photographer Hironori Akutagawa trained Oolong to balance objects on his head and took pictures, which he posted on his website. He became an internet sensation in 2001 and built a fan base until his death in 2003. He was eight years old. Urban Dictionary defines "pancake bunny" as the patron saint of silence.
The LOLcat universe has permeated the internet deeply with a vast array of funny cats, but the one who rose to the top of the popularity chain is not a cat at all! The LOLrus was a walrus who was charmingly attached to his most precious possession -a bucket. The original picture spawned an entire series of walrus macros, most captioned with something about the missing bucket. The original picture was of Minazo, an elephant seal (not a walrus at all!) who lived at the Enoshima Aquarium in Japan. Minazo died in 2005, but his legacy (and his bucket) lives on.
Who will the next inductees into the internet zoo be? There are quite a few famous animals who might deserve hall-of-fame status: Tubcat, Spaghetti Cat, Mocha the baby hamster, Oscar the death-predicting cat, Faith the bipedal dog, the Cadbury Gorilla, Tyson the skateboarding dog, Sugar Bush Squirrel, and the most popular of the LOLcats. What others would you suggest?