That’s Rusty, a red panda who was the subject of a city-wide search and many, many jokes after he was discovered missing from his enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. The story has all the elements to go viral: a cute animal, humans who like idiots, Washington, and an impeccable timeliness.
That’s Rusty, a red panda who was the subject of a city-wide search and many, many jokes after he was discovered missing from his enclosure at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. The story has all the elements to go viral: a cute animal, humans who like idiots, Washington, and an impeccable timeliness. It was a powder keg of snark and sarcasm waiting to go off. Rusty was found safe in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, less than a mile from the zoo, after a woman called the zoo and tweeted a photo of him. How the animal, which is the size of a small dog, escaped is still under investigation. There has been speculation he was taken by a human and then released. The event was a goldmine for social media comedians. And as the New York Times pointed out, everyone went crazy. For a glorious few hours, everyone in D.C. was united by a common cause. There are fewer things that cause less controversy than not wanting an escaped, but adorable, creature running around in your yard, and then making fun of the inept government who let him escape to god-knows-where (that statement can also apply to Edward Snowden.) Sadly, in an effort to keep up with Twitter, the mainstream news outlets followed, trying to fight the stereotype that new is boring and depressing (and important). Having the escape occur after all the Snowden coverage was too much for some to resist. CNN saw fit to write an article comparing the two fugitives, because they are practically the same person. You know, they both kind of have the same peachy color scheme going on. So, journalists aside, we have something to bond over at least–some harmless humor. Some stories are just unifiers. Some fun gets injected in a seriously depressing news cycle. Is it important to anyone outside of Washington D.C.? Probably not, unless Rusty managed to trick a bunch of journalists into thinking he got on a plane to Cuba. But it provided a release, and let some people exercise their sense of humor. Social media is such a great platform for sharing jokes because it shows a record of your validation. “Likes” and “Retweets” are the new applause. The connection to the Internet allows everyone to be newsworthy. Social media agencies can also learn something from this red panda fiasco. Jokes spread like wildfire on social media. It’s a great ego boost to see your comment retweeted or your post liked, even if it’s under the stage name of an animal.
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