Wombat Upstages Yo-Yo Ma's Performance at Chicago Community Trust's Anniversary Bash

By Jenny Berg December 19, 2011, 5:25 PM EST

Yo-Yo Ma performed at the Harris Theater on Tuesday night.

Photo: Elizabeth Sattelberger

The Chicago Community Trust, which awards grants to local nonprofits, hosted its 96th anniversary celebration on Tuesday, December 13. Held at the Harris Theater, the event showcased some of the institutions that have benefited from the Trust. Included in that category is the Brookfield Zoo, which sent over Wilbur the wombat, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, whose visiting artist Yo-Yo Ma performed.

Ma also participated in an onstage conversation with Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me. As Sagal told the audience, Ma had spent some backstage time with Wilbur the wombat, even lying down on the floor to get closer to the furry creature. Sagal photographed the unusual duo and, he said, “like any self-respecting American, I immediately tweeted [the image.]” Within minutes, thousands of people had clicked on the online photo, which generated headlines in national publications. The photo—and related reactions—even inspired its own hash tag: #YoYoWombat.

By Wednesday, though, the viral phenomenon was losing steam, and Sagal had moved on to other Twitter topics. “YoYoWombat madness fading,” he tweeted on December 14. “Wondering whether to tweet that pic of @Rick_Bayless on the ceiling with a sugar glider.”

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