Twitter is a social network, but it's also a sort of island prison, most actively populated by teens, various types of media workers, our tech overlords, brands, and bots.
By and large the inmates are left to their own devices, but occasionally an animal will wander in and captivate us all with the frivolity we project onto it. These are the animals who excelled at that in 2015.
Discounting "Left Shark," who is not a real animal, the two llamas that escaped and went on a run through Sun City, a small Arizona town north of Phoenix, were probably the first animals to thoroughly ensnare Twitter this year.
The Twitter-using world stopped and turned at once to follow the llamas:
Goofy news chyrons were had:
And the llamas also inspired one of the worst ideas of all time:
#llamawatch appeared, and merged with that week's earlier, even larger meme: The Dress.
And, of course, the incident spawned several bad, if short-lived, parody accounts of their own.
Then they were caught, and everyone watching returned to their jobs to contemplate how, much like the llamas, they could never truly escape.
This tale begins in late summer, when a group of six bears (a mother and five cubs) decided to do what any chill family would do in the late summer heat: take a swim. They just happened to do it in the pool of Tim and Justyna Basso, New Jersey residents who filmed them. And thus the world met the pool bears. They also met the Bassos' daughters, who provide commentary and are very concerned about the pool and the toys within.
Equally stultified by the late summer heat and a constant influx of bad news, Twitter took the opportunity to celebrate something.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is this silent Twitter video of a news report about the bears, where the camera angles and coloring manage to make the whole thing kind of unsettling:
September 3: President Obama befriends a salmon
In early September, as a part of his trip to Alaska, President Obama paid a visit to Kanakanak Beach in Dillingham, Alaska. There, he met a salmon, who shall remain anonymous. As Fusion's own Michael Rosen put it, President Obama must be "pretty good with his hands," because the salmon spawned all over his feet.
It was reported.
And the people, for various reasons, were thrilled.
And discussion of the story carried on for quite a while, even with the president himself.
Cigarette Crab was, as its name suggests, mostly people posting the same photo of a Philadelphian crab wandering around carrying a cigarette. It was a brief, flickering, memetic moment.
my friend just posted this real-life photo of a crab wandering the streets of north philly with a cigarette pic.twitter.com/Nqvewf9e0A
— meghan (@mghnbtts) September 13, 2015
However, as the Sun Times Network and Kelly Conaboy (at greater length) both pointed out, this is not the first cigarette carrying crab to light up the internet's weird pleasure receptors. Hell, there's a tumblr and a subreddit devoted to them. And, as it turned out, it was just the appetizer to Twitter's biggest animal obsession of the month.
September 21: Pizza Rat
Pizza Rat, like all the poor members of this list had greatness, or at least attention, thrust upon it. In this case, when a comedian named Matt Little spotted the rat carrying a slice of pizza down the steps of a New York City subway station, began taping, and urged it to "live your best life."
After that, what more is there to say? It belonged, tragically, to Twitter:
And inspired far too many iterations of this joke:
It's hard to say what horrors 2016 will bring for the poor rodent who simply wanted to eat its pizza. Probably a book deal.
September 23: Boston bros encounter a sunfish
Mikey (Michael) Bergin wasn't sure what the sunfish him and his friend Jay (Jason) Foster ran into out on the water at the end of the summer was, but that didn't stop him from speculating wildly and wonderfully. Among his guesses, recorded by the video he put on Facebook, are "a big sea turtle," "a big tuna," "an injured baby whale" (pronounced wheel), and "some shit we've never seen before."
Bergin's video birthed a sea of fans and impersonators, who are less inclined to mix their metaphors than I am, on Twitter.
Mikey and Jay eventually ended up on Kimmel:
And the memory of the video lives on even now, months later:
October 1: Kayak Bear
This is another Alaska story, since, as we all know, Alaska is 99% animals. The craze was launched by a video of kayaker Mary Maley (who is ashore, as is her kayak) asking her bear not to eat her $2,300 kayak.
At first she thanks the bear for not eating the kayak. Unfortunately, thanks were premature, and the bear digs in.
Maley (who's fine, at least bodily, don't worry) found a more receptive audience on Twitter, where people responded with a mix of empathy and weirdly placed schadenfreude.
Donald Trump remains a force in the GOP primary, but earlier this month we were treated to a glimpse of him in the grips of a bird of prey. Apparently, as part of a photo shoot for TIME's person of the year (Trump ended up a runner-up), Trump "agreed to pose with a bald eagle named Uncle Sam for a TIME cover story." Despite Trump's documented love of the eagle's kind, it turns out the bird was not a fan.
It was a moment GIF makers die for:
Or, just fans of eagles attacking Trump.
It too, like just about every animal listed above, spawned a boring parody account.
Though, in this case, the account seems to have been something else (it's been around since 2009) beforehand.
This is probably the best tweet to come out of the whole occasion, though:
And there you have it, the animals of Twitter 2015. Until next year, try to be like this fish receiving a massage, the star of the best animal video of any year:
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at firstname.lastname@example.org