What started as some good-natured Tweeting between an ecologist and a professor of carnivore conservation, turned into a social media storm of cuteness. Given the hashtag #cuteoff, Twitter came alive with pictures of animals in a battle for bragging rights. Conservationists, biologists, and animal rights activists all joined in, tweeting pictures of the animals they study or the species they are trying to preserve.
Pictures of penguin chicks, baby loggerhead turtles, bat-eared foxes and thousands of other animals were represented during the #cuteoff. When all had been tweeted and totaled, the hashtag had over 20,000 mentions. While citizen science efforts often take to social media, the cuteoff may have done more for the image of scientists than the actual animals. While not normally thought of as warm and fuzzy, the researchers showed themselves to be not only objective observers of their subjects, but dedicated fans of the fuzzy ears, tiny paws and soulful eyes of the creatures they study.