Zoos around the world like to claim “firsts,” which usually involve births of rare animals or some kind of unique animal behavior. Well, the Johannesburg Zoo is the latest to make such a claim, and in an era where social media dominates our lives this was bound to happen: The “Joburg Zoo” boasts what it says is “the world’s first live-tweeting badger.”
That’s right, BG the badger not only tweets daily, but he does so with so much flair that in only a couple of weeks his Twitter followers have increased to more than 6,400.
Of course, while the feisty little critter might be wily and witty, most of the credit goes to the zoo’s staff, which so cleverly manufactured this so-called first.
As explained in the video, BG’s vast enclosure is wired with infrared motion sensors in six zones. The sensors are connected to a data server that contains hundreds of pre-written tweets, which are issued in real-time as BG wanders around his enclosure.
For example, when BG strolled over to the porcupine enclosure on Tuesday morning, he tweeted: “So my porcupine neighbor doesn’t eat meat. Claims for personal reasons. Dude, I know you only have two teeth.”
That was preceded by this tweet: “A rat is thinking about climbing into my enclosure. Don’t feel much like entertaining, but I wouldn’t mind a snack. ;)”
Hours before that was this gem: “The zebras are arguing about whether they’re white on black or black on white. Um, let me google that for you. http://tinyurl.com/ko3rh3 #tada”
As stated humorously in the footage, “And boy, is BG an over-sharer. Twit pics of his food … selfies … cheeky comments on human visitors … jabs at his prickly neighbors, the latest on what’s what and who’s who in the zoo, and general badger banter…”
One can’t help but wonder how much time will pass before BG starts repeating himself, or whether the staff will keep authoring fresh tweets on the badger’s behalf.
Meanwhile, this experiment appears to be working out great, and the Joburg zoo has created a star.