A Meme Is Born: San Diego Zoo Koala

Is he Yoda, a flying superhero, or a fictional adventurer?

When the busy social media people at the San Diego Zoo posted a triptych of images featuring one the resident koalas in mid-leap, they couldn't have guessed that they might just be unleashing the next heartwarming photo-fun meme onto unsuspecting users of the internet.

Or maybe they did guess because the photographs, snapped by Elisa Evans, are pretty unusual -- "(p)roof that koalas actually move," quips the post -- and they're pretty ripe for meme-ing.

Facebook users immediately began weighing in, with Paul Montoya supplying the classic "I must go, my planet needs me." And zoo fan Aileen Diaz, as well as a few others, suggested that the wee marsupial resembled Yoda performing an elegant Jedi move.

User Matt Schwartz furthered this intriguing thought by adding a light saber to the koala's tiny paw, a photo reposted by the zoo under the header "The force is strong with this one."

It all charms because A) even committed koala watchers don't see their favorite animals move all that much. Koalas are famous for their ability to snooze in the branches of their beloved eucalyptus trees, and when koalas aren't snoozing they tend to be either napping or catching a little shut-eye.

And B? It isn't often, online, that we can see where a popular photo, and then a possible meme, begins. We sometimes wonder "whose dog is that?" or "where is that building?" when we see a popular image again and again, but this airborne koala has a humorous origin story, one that flowered on the San Diego Zoo's Facebook page.

Want to see these nappers -- and occasional enthusiastic leapers -- in napping/leaping action? They're at the Balboa Park-based animal institution. If you can't wait to see them in person, there is, of course, Koala Cam.

photo: Elisa Evan (light saber added by Matt Schwartz)

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