Rocky is getting a run for his money as the world's most famous squirrel.
A photograph of a camera-loving squirrel, taken by a Minnesota couple vacationing in Alberta, is going nuts on the Internet and in other media.
The photo, taken by remote in May at Banff National Park, shows a closeup of the squirrel peering into the lens as Jackson and Melissa Brandts, of Watertown, sit in the background on the shore of Lake Minnewanka.
The couple, who are both 29, submitted it last week for National Geographic's "Your Shot" contest, and not only is the image leading among online voters, but it also has captured the No. 1 search response spot on Google for "squirrel" and has been given the cut-and-paste treatment on web pages into various other photo scenes.
Jackson Brandts said the squirrel came up to the camera as they were "clicking away [and it] heard the shutter and got interested. I had the remote control, [the camera] refocused on the squirrel and had us in the background."
Brandts said the rodent played to the camera for about 5 minutes, but "once he realized it wasn't going to spit out food, he ran away."
After immediately looking at the three digital images of the squirrel, Jackson Brandts said he thought, "Wow, we got it. And that's never going to happen again."
They sent the image to the magazine contest, igniting interest from around the world and capturing a large swath of the Calgary Herald's front page.
"We're received e-mails and phone calls from Canada, Australia, Italy, South Korea," Jackson Brandts said.
They've also heard from "Good, Morning America," but Jackson Brandts said he's reluctant to grab too much quicksilver fame, noting how the St. Paul "wedding dance" video this summer consumed the newlyweds in media attention.
To vote in the magazine contest, visit tinyurl.com/6hafa6.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482