The sneezing baby panda. The skateboarding bulldog. The hand-holding otters. What is it about animals doing seemingly human activities that we find so utterly endearing, that we’ll watch video clips of them over and over again? Viral animal videos are one of most dogged internet memes since the advent of YouTube, and these ones remain among the most-watched online clips of all time.
The Sneezing Baby Panda
It’s a scene of peace and calm – a mother panda and her baby, relaxing at a zoo. The mother panda chows down, paying little attention to the teeny tiny creature crawling around in front of her – until the baby lets out one shockingly loud sneeze.
Extreme Sheep LED Ad
What happens when you equip hundreds of sheep with LED lights and set them loose on a hillside with highly trained shepherding dogs? A display unlike any other, in which the sheep create unbelievable patterns including the Mona Lisa and an enactment of the game Pong. A team of talented Welsh shepherds created this video for a Samsung LED ad campaign.
The feline version of Hattori Hanzo is so smooth, he comes closer without moving. Set to some creepy music, this video of a cat stealthily sneaking up on its ‘prey’ resembles a scene from a horror movie (with a really cute antagonist.)
Dramatic Prairie Dog
All it takes is a five-second clip of a prairie dog (apparently trained in overly dramatic theatrical arts) to create an internet meme that just won’t die. Dramatic Prairie Dog – also inaccurately known as Dramatic Chipmunk – originally appeared on a Japanese kids’ show called Hello Morning.
Christian the Lion
Just try to watch this video without getting a tear in your eye. John Rendall and Anthony “Ace” Bourke rescued Christian the lion from Harrods department store as a cub and bonded with him before reintroducing him to the wild after he grew too large to remain in their care. A year later, conservationists in Africa told Rendall and Bourke that Christian had become head of his own pride. They wanted to see him, but were warned that he probably wouldn’t remember them. That proved not to be the case, as this heartwarming video of their reunion illustrates.
Bizkit the Sleep Walking Dog
If your dog were to frantically try to run it its sleep before proceeding to snarl, slam into a wall, bark and stare into space before snapping out of it, would you A) take your dog to the vet or B) laugh and videotape the whole incident? Bizkit’s owner chose B, to the delight of internet users around the world, but some people believe the dog might be suffering from neurological problems.
Nora: Practice Makes Purr-fect
When piano instructor Betsy Alexander adopted a gray tabby cat from her local shelter, she never imagined that soon the cat would be upstaging her own musical skills. But Nora, who had watched Alexander play on the piano and began to imitate her, became an instant YouTube star. Nora proved that the performance wasn’t a fluke or a fake with a live encore on The Today Show.
Otters Holding Hands
As if otters weren’t already cute enough, this video of a pair holding hands while placidly floating on their backs in the water sealed their reputation as awww-inducing animals. Sea otters commonly join together in this way, sometimes in groups of up to 100.
The Two Talking Cats
Animals have their ways of communicating with each other, but these two cats seem to be having an hour-long conversation, meowing back and forth at each other. Their owners says “Stina and Mossy usually fight instead of communicate, so this was an odd moment.”
Maru and the Cardboard Box
Many cats like cardboard boxes – there’s just something about the scratchable texture and dark, confined space that is irresistable. But Maru doesn’t just like cardboard – he’s obsessed with it. In this clip, Maru repeatedly attempts to insert himself into a tiny diet soda box.
The Exploding Whale
A gigantic, rotting dead whale on a beach is a big problem. But a gigantic, rotting dead whale blown up into millions of pieces scattered all over a beach is an even bigger problem, as officials in one town found out back in the 1970s.
Kittens Inspired by Kittens
Though kittens are the main event in this viral video, the real star is the little girl who ad-libs hilarious commentary on what kittens pictured in a book are thinking. “I want pie!” “I want beef jerky!” “Bow-wow-chicka-bow-wow-chicka-bow-wow!”
Nobody ever gets a free ride – except for this cat, which rules tranquilly over its very clean domain on a Roomba vacuuming robot. That’s about all there is to this video, but there’s just something about the strange merger between animals and technology that made this clip an internet hit.
Tillman the bulldog has such an astounding proclivity for skateboarding that it has landed him television appearances and a starring role in a commercial – this in addition to his own website and promotional merchandise featuring his photo.
Perhaps no cute animal has risen to internet video fame quite as quickly as “surprised kitty”, the adorable gray and white kitten featured in a 17-second video reacting to her owner’s tickling game. With over 18 million views on YouTube alone, surprised kitty’s video is definitely among the top animal viral videos of all time.