SXSW Recap: An Interview with Animal Planet’s New Spokescat, Lil Bub

Cat philanthropist Lil Bub traveled to SXSW this year to mingle with fans, raise awareness for special-needs animals, and reveal the news that she’s now an official partner of Animal Planet.

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How’s the journey to fame been for Lil Bub?

Mike Bridavsky: Honestly I truly believe that Bub made a personal choice to become famous. If she never became famous, she wouldn’t be with us. That’s how we found treatment for her disease and that’s how she survives. It was like, “I need help” and what’s the way to do that? It’s to become famous. And then she picked me to manage this whole aspect so she isn’t exploited in the wrong way and so that she only aligns with things that she cares about.

We encourage adopting and spaying pets, we raise a lot of money for special needs pets, and that’s the focus of our work. We want it to be about Bub, her mission, and trying to educate people about the rewards of having a special-needs pet.

Bub is a truly magnificent creature. She’s absolutely one of a kind in many ways, not just as a cat, but as a living being, because you can see this is an awe-inspiring environment for her. She loves to travel; she’s actually the most active, spry and alive when we travel, and that’s how she’s always been.

I never sought out to make her famous, but you can look at her and you can see why people really connect with her. She’s got this dynamic energy that any celebrity aspires to have, not just a pet celebrity.

What are some of the events Lil Bub participated in during SXSW?

We went to Austin Animal Center with Animal Planet. They had this really amazing event there with over 100 adoptions in that one day, and we came to say hello and took a tour of the facility.

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Whenever we do a trip we always set up a meet-and-greet, where we charge people to meet Bub and all the money goes to charity (split 50/50 between the shelter and Lil Bub’s Big Fund for Special Needs Pets). At SXSW, we did a meet and greet at Austin Pets Alive. It was $80 to meet Bub and it came with an exclusive limited edition print signed by Bub, and we raised about $11,000 in three hours.

That is why we agreed to align with Animal Planet, because they share the same values. This is our first event together, and they’ve always been supportive of Bub, and their initiative to raise awareness about adopting pets is important to us, so we thought, “Yeah, we can team up and do a lot together.”

Does Bub have any celebrity crushes?

She has a bit of a crush on Marnie the Dog. Marnie is a really special dog and they raise a lot of awareness about adopting elderly pets, which have the highest rate of euthanasia. I think Bub has a pretty big crush of Grover from Sesame Street, too. I also have a crush on Grover.

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Photography by Chris Wiley
Interview by Gillian Driscoll


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