Me at the zoo

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"Me at the zoo"
Full video
Produced byJawed Karim
StarringJawed Karim
CinematographyYakov Lapitsky
Release date
April 23, 2005; 18 years ago
Running time
19 seconds
CountryUnited States

"Me at the zoo" is the first ever video uploaded to YouTube, on April 23, 2005,[1] 8:31:52 p.m. PDT, or April 24, 2005, at 03:31:52 UTC. The 19-second video features YouTube's co-founder Jawed Karim, who was 25 years old at the time, in front of two elephants at the San Diego Zoo in California, noting their long trunks.[2][3] Using Karim's camera,[4] it was recorded by his high school friend, Yakov Lapitsky, a University of Delaware Ph.D. student at the time, who was in San Diego to deliver his research to the American Chemical Society.[4]


The Los Angeles Times explained in 2009 that "as the first video uploaded to YouTube, it played a pivotal role in fundamentally altering how people consumed media and helped usher in a golden era of the 60-second video".[5] Digital Trends called it a "nondescript affair" and "tongue-in-cheek" video that set "the tone for what was to come" on YouTube.[6]


Greg Jarboe describes the video's representation of an "ordinary moment" to be "extraordinary" for its time, demonstrating YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim's vision of what YouTube would become. According to Jarboe, "Me at the zoo" showed that YouTube was not simply about trying to "capture special moments on video" but rather trying to empower YouTube users "to become the broadcasters of tomorrow". This paved the way for YouTube to become the world's most popular online video-sharing community.[7] Aaron Duplantier said that the ordinary "everydayness" and "dry aesthetics" of "Me at the zoo" set the tone for the type of original amateur content that would become typical of YouTube, especially among YouTubers and vloggers.[8] In addition to being the first video on YouTube, it has been described as the first YouTube vlog clip.[9]

Business Insider ranked it the most important YouTube video of all time, stating: "It is representative of YouTube—it doesn't need to be this fancy production; it can be approachable. The first YouTube video is something anyone could create on their own."[10] The New York Observer also ranked it the most important video in YouTube history, stating "the thing is practically a historical artifact".[11] BuzzFeed News listed it among the 20 most important online videos of all time.[12]

On multiple occasions, Karim has used the video's description feed to criticize YouTube's business actions. In November 2013, in response to Google requiring YouTube users to use Google+ accounts to comment on videos, he updated the description to say "I can't comment here anymore, since i don't want a Google+ account".[13] In November 2021, the video's description was changed in response to YouTube's decision to remove video dislikes from public view, reading: "When every YouTuber agrees that removing dislikes is a stupid idea, it probably is. Try again, YouTube".[14][15] A few days later, the description was changed again to a more detailed condemnation of YouTube's decision.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Asmelash, Leah (April 23, 2020). "The first ever YouTube video was uploaded 15 years ago today. Here it is". CNN. Archived from the original on April 23, 2020. Retrieved February 12, 2021.
  2. ^ Hoby, Hermione; Tom Lamont (April 11, 2011). "How YouTube made superstars out of everyday people". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0029-7712. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  3. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (September 6, 2009). "Uploading the Avant-Garde". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Miller, Beth (September 2015). "YouTube's First Upload". University of Delaware messenger. Vol. 23, no. 2. Retrieved June 5, 2021.
  5. ^ Pham, Alex (April 10, 2010). "YouTube turns 5, can't wait to grow up". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Archived from the original on August 20, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2011. Born as a clearinghouse for quick, quirky homemade videos, the site now seeks to add more professional and profitable content.
  6. ^ "'Elephants have really long trunks' – YouTube's first ever video upload turns seven years old today". Digital Trends. April 23, 2012. Archived from the original on August 26, 2019. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Jarboe, Greg (2009). YouTube and Video Marketing: An Hour a Day. John Wiley & Sons. p. xxi. ISBN 9780470577820.
  8. ^ Duplantier, Aaron (2016). Authenticity and How We Fake It: Belief and Subjectivity in Reality TV, Facebook and YouTube. McFarland. p. 122. ISBN 9780786498499.
  9. ^ "YouTube created a FOMO viewing culture over the past 13 years". Polygon. April 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Baer, Drake (February 20, 2015). "The 10 most important Youtube videos of all time". Business Insider. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  11. ^ "The 10 Most Important Videos in YouTube History". The New York Observer. February 13, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  12. ^ "The 20 Most Important Online Videos Of All Time". BuzzFeed News. BuzzFeed. September 27, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  13. ^ Cheredar, Tom (November 8, 2013). "YouTube cofounder's first public comment in 8 years: why the f*** [sic] do i need a Google+ account to comment on a video?". VentureBeat. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  14. ^ "YouTube's first video, changes description, calls the decision to stop dislike counter 'stupid'". The Indian Express. November 15, 2021. Archived from the original on November 15, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Vincent, James (November 17, 2021). "YouTube co-founder predicts 'decline' of the platform following removal of dislikes". The Verge. Retrieved November 18, 2021.

External links[edit]