He's not a walrus!

Minazo is a famous southern elephant seal who lived in Enoshima Aquarium in Japan until his death in October of 2005. He was 11 years old, 15 feet long, and weighed two tons. Southern elephant seals are the largest of all pinnipeds, and Minazo was a prime example. His name was a combination of three kanji characters meaning "beautiful", "male", and "elephant".

Thanks to Simulacron3 for the kanji codes

Brought to the aquarium in 1995, Minazo became a crowd pleaser by learning tricks to perform for aquarium visitors. His most famous routine was to hold a bucket in one of his pectoral flippers and "smile" by sticking out his tongue. His three acts a day earned him a number of fans and even netted him a TV appearance. Unfortunately, Minazo died before his time (elephant seals are expected to live around 20 years) of an unknown illness that ruined his appetite, and after his death a CD was released by the experimental Japanese band Merzbow commemorating him with a picture of an elephant seal holding a bucket on a cloud.

And that's where the story would have ended, if the lolcats meme hadn't shown up.

Traditionally, lolcats are pictures of cute kittens with attached captions done with idealized childlike grammar and spelling. As the genre became more popular, creators started to branch out to other animals.

At some point, someone discovered a couple of pictures of Minazo and his trainer playing with a bucket. To these images were attached the captions "I Has a Bucket" [sic] and "Noooo they be stealin' my Bucket" [sic]. Later someone else found a third picture featuring Minazo balancing his trainer on his nose and added the caption "You stoled mah bukket! U in big trubble now!" [sic]. The original two images are now featured in their own domain at http://www.ihasabucket.com.

Unfortunately, the internet population at large, not being familiar with the various families in the pinnipedia suborder, incorrectly identified the large marine mammal as a walrus. Actually, elephant seals are somewhat larger, and lack the distinctive tusks which are present in both male and female walruses.

That hardly mattered though, because "elephant seal" is harder to portmanteau into a cute word like lolrus. Lolephant seal just doesn't have the same ring to it. It spread like a virus from there. People grabbed any picture of walruses they could find, and the occasional elephant seal (probably by accident), and slapped bucket-related captions on them. The walrus army was out in force, searching for their buckets and defending their cartoonishly oversized cellular phones in an epic comedy known as The Bucket Saga, until the idea slowly died the death of the overplayed meme.

Today, Minazo may have died, but his spirit lives on, commanding his bucket-loving walrus followers from the lolcat collecting site i can has cheezburger.

The Complete Bucket Saga now has its own website as well.


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