Lessons in World Domination: The Sloth's Sleepy Rise to Internet FameS

Sloths. So hot right now. Because there's just so much out there, this site has seen a particular burst of sloth related content in 2012 (there were three posts in the last week alone), leading us to ask, "How does an animal so slow become Internet-famous so fast?" Truth is, sloths have actually been planning their slow assault on the online squee community — and our hearts — for some time now, and it's high time somebody does something about it. First they came for the lolcats and I said nothing.

But, first, the facts. How did this start? Sloths can barely pull themselves across the road and yet they're easily gliding their way towards world domination. Turns out, that's precisely it: The first sloth video that made the Internet collectively lose their mind was of a sloth attempting to drag itself across the road with its goofy long arms. You can watch the original from 2010 here, but things really got good in 2011 when some evil genius decided to set the video to R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly.

But even before that particular sloth saw himself "running through that open door," this video of a sloth actually falling asleep as it attempts to cross a busy highway in Costa Rica made small tracks on the surface of the web in 2008.

Being bad at crossing the road isn't the only thing that sloths are doing right. Here's a video of a couple of itchy baby sloths that went viral back in 2007 (the first of its kind), and has since amassed over 4 million views. Yes, this seems to be the FIRST VIRAL SLOTH VIDEO. (Show some respect.) Don't let their adorable scratching fool you. The brains behind those piggy faces are shrewdly contemplating how to ransack your pantry.

Of course, the only surefire way to make the public love you is a celebrity endorsement. While Kristen Bell's sloth meltdown is the most recent (and most popular) example, the special and beautiful people really started noticing sloths in 2010, when British documentarian Lucy Cooke posted the video she took at the Aviarios del Caribe sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, Meet the Sloths.

Says Cooke:

Within days it had gone around the world, been tweeted by Stephen Fry, Ricky Gervais and Ashton Kutcher, and featured everywhere from the CNN news channel to The Moscow Times.

Now Meet The Sloths has been turned into a series for Animal Planet, meaning that the crazy bear-monkeys' already-awkwardly long reach has extended beyond the web and into the airwaves. First the Internet, then television. Sloths won't be stopped until they've managed to make us all like them, as if they were a group of dopey, cute Cybermen.

Sloths have yet to surpass the current Internet heavyweight, cats, in popularity, but only time will tell. Considering how they've already crushed hand-holding otters, slow lorises, and fainting goats with an iron 3-toed fist, it's no doubt that felines better start watching their backs.

The only real obstruction in the sloths' path to total and complete reign is the sloth itself. Could they get so famous that their own hubris sends them into a downward spiral? We know this story. It starts with hanging out with famous people like Kristen Bell and ends with getting caught by a plain-clothes cop while doing coke in the bathroom at the Roxbury. After a brief period of dating Peter Stringfellow, the sloth joins the cast of Celebrity Rehab where it throws continual tantrums and inexplicably hates Mackenzie Phillips, eventually rendering itself unlikeable.

The sloth's self-destruction is the only hope we as a society have. Lord knows they're far too cute for us to stop them. In fact, I just rewatched the sloth in a onsie video and you should forget everything I just said. Let's officially give up and accept the sloth takeover, which, without a doubt, will be the most adorable takeover in the history of time.

A special thank you to Deanna Leung Madden at the Cheezburger Network and Brad Kim from Know Your Meme for their help in collecting this data. Yes. I collected data.