By Rebecca Stout
Who is one of the newest and sweetest sensations on the Internet? It’s Mr. Bagel. His dazzling photos are making quite a splash on Instagram @ChinnyBuddy (with more than 70,000 followers) and his popularity is still rising. The images of the outrageously adorable chinchilla are making their way across social media. His owner, Steve Byun, uses his imaginative mind and photography skills to produce the entertaining photos that are wowing the world. But this is not all just for giggles. Mr. Bagel has become a model and poster chinchilla for a bigger purpose.
Byun uses Mr. Bagel’s soulful eyes to reach deep down into people to send a message. The message being, “Say no to fur clothing!” Just look at those peepers — they belong to a precious being that has his own personality and feelings, not a thing.
“Every pet should be given the best life possible,” Byun said. “Mr. Bagel isn’t your typical pet such as a dog or a cat, but he has so much personality and has taught me so much about taking care of another life. As a pet owner, one should always remember that you are all they have and you have total control over their life, so treat them well!”
When the Southern California resident isn’t advocating and educating the public about pets, he works in the auto industry. He enjoys sharing a beer with his friends during his off time. In fact, it was during one of those occasions that a pivotal brainstorm came about.
“Some of my friends were talking about these cute bunnies they follow on Instagram,” Byun said, “and I thought it would be a great idea to dedicate an account to Mr. Bagel so I can informally document his life.” A star was born.
Chinchilla Personality Plus!
People have become acquainted with the bushy-tailed rodent through unique snapshots. But what is life like with this extraordinary chinchilla Byun adopted from a Bay Area rescue so many years ago? Chinchillas, in general, are very active, inquisitive and very friendly. However, they are not a “cuddly” pet. So if you are looking for a snuggly companion, this is not the one for you. An interesting fact about them is they use their long whiskers to help “see” because their eyes, although large and expressive, don’t have the best vision. This is in part because they are nocturnal. You might be surprised to hear that they are actually quite the athletes despite their stocky build and are high jumpers and good climbers. One of their more endearing characteristics is that they can be very vocal. Byun loves all of these things about chinchillas, but most of all he likes their independence.
“I like the fact that they can take care of themselves,” Byun said. “I am out and about a lot of the time, and I feel comfortable leaving him at the house since I know he can take care of himself.”
Each “chinny” has his own personality and temperament. Byun describes Mr. Bagel as being very well behaved. So much so, he pretty much has free roam of the house!
“I leave his cage open so he can come out anytime he wants to,” Byun said. “He usually ends up going back to his cage to either nap, snack and handle his business.”
Mr. Bagel’s spacious cage has four levels complete with a chin-spin wheel, hideout shelters and his hammock, where Byun says he likes to “chinchill.” Among his favorite activities are napping, waiting for treats and taking dust baths. But his favorite place to hang out on is his ledge by the living room window. He sits there near Byun while they enjoy their favorite shows.
“I am sure that the nice cool breeze keeps him there, but I’d like to think he likes watching TV with me,” Byun said.
Cuteness With A Serious Side
Small souls can have the loudest voices of all, and Mr. Bagel and Byun try to send a pretty loud one. You can follow the cuteness overload on Instagram and his Mr. Bagel Facebook page. Even better, you can cruise the Mr. Bagel website and purchase Mr. Bagel Gear.
“This gives me an opportunity to give back to the chinchilla community,” Byun said. “A portion of its sales will be donated to a local chinchilla shelter.”
The tiny critter with the loud message, along with his partner in crime, have quite a future to ponder.
“Over the past year and a half, Mr. Bagel has gained a lot of audience so there are a lot of opportunities to partner up for synergy,” Byun said. “I have been carefully picking and partnering up with certain companies that share the similar passion about owing pets and animal rights. I am excited to see the future opportunities that will come our way.”
So go join the thousands who are helping to spread the word about saying no to fur. Share his photos and get geared up. But most of all, behold the cuteness!