Photo: dr_Xeno/Creative Commons
And that could be a good thing for the animal world as a whole, since getting us to connect with animals on a social level may give conservation efforts a boost.
1. Olive the Oiled Otter: 1,559 Likes
Olive the Oiled Otter may be only three years old, but she's already gone through a lifetime of drama: When she was rescued from Sunset State Beach in Monterey Bay, California in 2009, the endangered, year-old otter was covered in oil (which her Info page attributes to a "natural seep" off the coast).
Biologists cleaned her off -- efforts included an olive oil rubdown and a two-hour bath -- and she was released back into the ocean. But -- even from the ocean -- she still updates her profile with information on her new location, otter conservation efforts, and how the rest of her species is dealing with climate change.
2. Penelope Seal: 4,181 Friends
The profile page for Penelope Seal, a Northern California elephant seal, was set up by Nicole Teutschel, a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz who hoped that bringing the seal into social networking would improve outreach and awareness.
And she may have been right: Penelope now has more than 4,000 friends with whom she shares links about the tagging program's success, marine research efforts, and her own daily activities.
3. Bronx Zoo Cobra: 242,280 Followers
This snake is a verifiable social media superstar: After a female cobra escaped from the Bronx Zoo in March, a Twitter feed named @BronxZooCobra making good use of the tag #snakeonthetown took Twitter by storm, picking up more than 200,000 followers in a matter of days (and earning it a Best of Green Award).
While Zoo officials promised that the real cobra was hiding out in the reptile house, Twitter told a different story: The snake was visiting New York landmarks, trading jokes with celebrities, and staying just out of reach of its closest human associate, @BronxZooKeeper.
After the snake was found and returned to its enclosure, the feed slowed -- but details of life with the other animals (and plans for another escape) helped the cobra hold onto its massive following.
4. Knut: 24,344 Fans
The 24,344 users from around the world who are fans of his public figure page still leave him (and the deceased trainer who raised him) daily messages marking holidays, updating Knut on his bear relatives' activities, and reminding the bear that he's missed with comments like, "Our sweet boy, Knut: May you be sung to sleep by a choir of angels with Thomas by your side. Goodnight, sweetheart!"
While no one updates the page from the administrative end, it does contain dozens of photos of the bear at his cutest.
5. Dino: 25,107 Likes
Social media users campaigned to keep Dino safe, and were successful until this spring when the bear's "unusual behavior" gave officials reason to believe he had rabies.
Dino was shot and killed in March, and an autopsy showed that he did not have rabies. Now, his Facebook page is filled with comments, videos, and messages of support (most of which are in Italian).
6. Polka Spot Llama: 2,307 Followers
Polka Spot and her mother were adopted by the Boys when a nearby farm had to rehome them, and the llama now fills her Twitter with commentary on current events ("llama shoulld've married Willlliam. Princess Polka Spot"), fashion tips ("Llama prefers Llouboutins to muck boots!"), and her favorite tunes ("llama is llip syncing to @rihanna S&M; 'i llike it i llike it c'mon'").
And now, those double Ls aren't typos -- how else would a llama spell "lip?"