Here’s the thing about the Internet: It loves cute stuff.
When a picture of a lamb in a backpack popped up on Twitter last Thursday, the Internet did what it does best: made it viral.
That picture, however, was quite familiar to fourth-year Oregon State Animal Sciences student Kaylyn Gillespie, who was notified of her online appearance by a friend. By that time, the photo was everywhere, eventually advancing to the front page of Reddit.
It has been viewed 1.2 million times.
When she saw the picture, Kaylyn was a little “creeped out” at first. After all, somebody had taken a photo of her, without her knowledge, and put it on the Internet.
“I wan’t sure what to think at first, but then I saw what was happening to it,” she said.
Thanks to the original poster, @Leyz_Magana, on Twitter, it became an instant classic.
“I saw a goat in the girls bag and I laughed so hard I took the pic! Idk if she (knew I) took a pic or not but I wanted to post it on twitter,” Magana said in a direct message to the university.
That goat was, in fact, a sheep. And that sheep was named Mr. Freeze. The photo ascended to the No. 1 spot on Reddit, a popular social media forum where users can up vote, down vote and comment on content posted. The more up votes an item receives, the higher it goes on the site. Front page items are rare, only rewarded for the massively popular. For Mr. Freeze, well, his rise to fame was instant. On Reddit, Facebook and Twitter, comments and questions mounted as to why on Earth somebody would be carrying around a “goat” in a backpack.
Watching it all unfold on Reddit, Kaylyn made a username, revealed herself as the lamb’s caretaker and told her story to the online community.
Her first post:
Pretty neat, huh? Turns out Mr. Freeze was born in the Oregon State Sheep Barn managed by Mary Meaker, who brings in volunteers to serve as a “Lambing Crew” during lambing season. The volunteers, some from the Oregon State Sheep Club, take shifts each day and night (yes, all night — Kaylyn’s is from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) to make sure lambing mothers and newborns stay healthy, among other things.
Kaylyn posted 40+ comments on the Reddit thread, answering all and any questions, including if Mr. Freeze does his business in her backpack. In fact, Kaylyn took it upon herself to scrounge the baby isle of the grocery store for diapers that fit. Then she took Mr. Freeze to class. To keep him warm, she had to.
“My teachers are great,” she said. “I just took him to class and he was actually very quiet.”
Out and about, Mr. Freeze is a celebrity. Kaylyn rarely walks through campus without being stopped by somebody asking for a picture, or to just pet the lamb.
It has been a stellar run for the 10-day old Mr. Freeze, ending with great news: he is back with his mother, nursing and healthy.
All thanks to the Oregon State volunteer and veterinarian-to-be, Kaylyn Gillespie.