Over the years the internet has obsessed over a variety of different animals, with pandas, dogs, cats and sloths being the centre of many different viral memes. However, since 2021 a relatively obscure creature has been the subject of great affection from the media for its docile and gentle nature. 


Although being given the name “coconut doggy” it may surprise you that capybaras are in fact large, cavy rodents native to South America. With a height of 50-64 cm, a body width of 107-135 cm and a weight of between 35-50kg, the capybara is the largest rodent in the world. Like their cousin the beaver, capybaras are also semi-aquatic, usually being found in areas of dense vegetation near ponds, lakes, rivers, marshes and swamps. Despite their inclination to the water and strong swimming ability capybaras are no strangers to the land, with the capability of running up to 35 km/h, nearly matching the speed of a horse. 


It was because of these bizarre traits coupled with their extraordinarily gentle and relaxed demeanour that the capybara would begin to receive virality. Although their biggest surge in popularity would only occur in late 2020, the  capybara is no stranger to the internet with various twitter and tumbler accounts posting videos showcasing the animals’s famously docile nature. A notable example of this includes the tumblir account “Animals Sitting on Capybaras” launched in June 2013 with one of the account’s post amassing over 30,000 likes.


Over time the capybara would ride numerous waves of popularity, with its humorous reaction to a jaguar carrying a crocodile by the hand in the BBC documentary Planet Earth II - becoming a popular GIF in 2016. However, it was on 10th September 2020 that the capybara would begin to gain a significant amount of attention as a 2014 video, reuploaded by EGA NATION of a capybara in the passenger seat of a car was combined with the Don Toliver hit song “After Party”. The video would gain over two million views in less than a year and inspire hundreds of memes and fan art.


The popularity of capybaras was intensified in August 2021 as they gained media attention for their “invasion” of Nordelta, one of Argentina’s most well-known and wealthy gated communities. The story gained a particularly large amount of media attention due to the community being built on the wetlands of the Paraná river which were previously occupied by different wildlife such as the capybara. It was because of this that people began using capybaras as a symbol of class struggle and communism.