First-Ever YouTube Video Published 19 Years Ago — and It Was All About a Trip to the Zoo!

The 19-second clip was uploaded by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim on April 23, 2005

<p>Jawed/YouTube</p> Jawed Karim


Jawed Karim

Almost two decades ago, a grainy, 19-second clip became the very first YouTube video.

What the video lacks in length and quality, it makes up for in charm — the same charm that helped the video-sharing platform evolve into the social media powerhouse it is today.

Now separated into three sections, “Intro,” “The cool thing,” and “End,” the brief clip was uploaded on Apr 23, 2005, by YouTube co-founder and software engineer Jawed Karim, who was 25 at the time.

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As its title, “Me at the zoo,” implies, the video shows Karim, now 44, at a zoo. Specifically, it shows him standing in front of several elephants at the San Diego Zoo.

“All right, so here we are, in front of the elephants,” the YouTube co-founder begins the video. “The cool thing about these guys is that they have really, really, really long trunks. And that's cool.”

And, after briefly looking back at the elephant enclosure, Karim finishes, “And that's pretty much all there is to say.”

Uploaded a month before YouTube became available to the public in May 2025, “Me at the zoo” now has over 317 million views, and 16 million likes.

Jawed Karim
Jawed Karim

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At the time, YouTube saw about 30,000 visitors per day, according to Encyclopædia Britannica. By the time the platform launched in an official capacity on Dec. 15, 2005, it was attracting over two million video views daily.

Co-founders Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley — all of whom were also early employees of PayPal — eventually sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion in November 2006, per Encyclopædia Britannica.

According to the New York Times, Karim didn't ever “take a salary, benefits or even a formal title” while launching YouTube. Instead, he went to Stanford to receive a master’s degree in computer science, with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor.

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Currently, the most-watched videos on YouTube — as of January 2024 — are not zoo clips, but rather music videos and catchy nursery tunes, with No. 1 being “Baby Shark Dance,” per Forbes India. The iconic earworm currently has over 14 billion views.

Second on the list is Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” with over eight billion views, followed by “Johny Johny Yes Papa,” “Bath Song” and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” all of which have over six billion views each.

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