Ursula, the dancing lamb caught last week on a video that was shared by Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center, has waltzed her way to more than millions of people around the world.
The spontaneously recorded image of the lamb hopping and baa-baa-bopping down a hallway was meant as just another video posted to Facebook on Feb. 28, but Facebook tracking data indicated Thursday afternoon that the video has reached at least 2.8 million people.
That’s on the animal shelter’s Facebook page alone, director Chris Kemper said. A Fox News post of the video had notched 1.4 million views.
While other videos the shelter has shared reached about 40,000 views, tops, Kemper says Ursula has become a worldwide viral sensation — and she’s still trending upward a week later.
How to choreograph a way to turn those views into adoptions has become Kemper’s latest goal.
“We want people in driving distance — Shreveport, Tyler, Dallas, wherever — we want them to think, ‘Wow, I’m going to drive to that facility because they care about what they’re doing,’” Kemper said. “That’s what we hope the outcome is.”
The shelter’s Facebook post reached almost 1 million more people in the 24 hours prior to Thursday afternoon, and it had garnered 116,000 reactions, 13,300 comments and 27,700 shares.
Most notable, there have been 2,144 new likes of the Facebook page for Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center over the last month, and likely about 95 percent of those likes have occurred in the past week, he said.
“In the last 24 hours or so, we’ve had 1,335 new ‘page likes,’” Kemper said Wednesday, “so those are new people following our page, and that’s an enormous number of people in a two- or three-day period. Those are people that we hope with every ‘page like,’ they’re going to share more stuff, and they’re going to keep sharing our things.”
People magazine, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fox News — this is a sample of the media outlets that have reached out to Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center to share the video of Ursula dancing with a veterinary technician in the surgery hallway of the shelter, Kemper said.
Staff have found people sharing the video worldwide including Australia, South Africa, the Philippines, Russia, London, France and Spain.
We are very popular in Romania,” he said.
It all began near the end of the workday Feb. 28. Ursula is the pet of shelter vet technician Erin Dryden, who has had the lamb since birth, Kemper said. Often, the tech brings Ursula to work.
“She’s like a puppy, but she gets excited and she starts jumping,” he said.
Kemper was walking from an office when he saw shelter animal care tech Nina Allen dancing with Ursula toward him down the surgery hallway. Kemper took out his phone and activated his camera video app to record the scene.
Allen added copyright-free music to the video later that night and sent it to Kemper, “and our thought was, ‘Let’s just post this. It will make some people laugh, and it keeps us in the Facebook cycle until the next morning,’ because we always try to find things that people can share in the nighttime before people start sharing the next morning,” he said.
The video took off on Facebook that next morning, March 1. Television station KLTV later asked to share the video on its platform. The shelter agreed, and 30 minutes later, KLTV’s parent company, Raycom Media, shared it nationwide, Kemper said.
Within 30 minutes, the shelter was getting likes from Hawaii, Florida, upstate New York and elsewhere.
Staff now want to spin the sensation into a local and regional push to get more people in the shelter and adopting pets.
The shelter is near capacity mostly with dogs, but spring is coming, and if people see how much fun shelter staffers have doing their job, then maybe that will mean they’ll want to see that in person and potentially save a pet’s life, Kemper said.
He believes they won’t know the video’s true initial impact until after next week, which is spring break, traditionally a time when adoptions surge for the month of March, he said.
I’m hoping that Ursula showcases that and brings people in to watch those other videos and see what we do and hopefully it turns into adoptions. All of this hoopla is great, but we need to get animals out the door,” he said. “That’s the hope, that it saves lives.”
The shelter is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.