Margriet van Breevoort who created the sculpture of an odd creature at the Leiden University Medical Center was surprised when her creation won the hearts of Russian Internet users.
The sculpture has been at the Leiden University Medical Center since Spring last year. Breevort called the sculpture "Homunculus Loxodontus" but when the photo of the creature spread to Russia it became known as "Zhdun" or "somebody waiting for something".Breevoort told Sputnik:"I wanted to give it a scientific name, like a new species. Homunculus means 'little guy' in Latin, or 'artificially created human.' And Loxodontus is the scientific name for African elephant, referring to the snout." Zdhun is featured in the appended video. It is in Russian as are most videos of Dhun. No text is needed though! As you can see Zdhun definitely has a distinctive appearance. It has a big snout but also large kind eyes and is quite fat.Breevort explained what motivated her:So the statue just sat there for about a year attracting no special foreign interest. Just this January a Russian woman who visited the hospital took a photo of the statue. She published the photo on Pikabu which is the Russian version of Reddit. The statue quickly became a sensation and a meme. Pictures of Zhdun went viral on Russian media and he was made a star in news stories and featured in famous paintings as shown on the appended video. Zhdun is even shown at the Yalta Conference along with Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. There are also photos with Russian President Putin. Members of Tumblr have named Zhdun Snorp. According to this site "snorp" can mean many things. According to another site:Zhdun's Russian fans soon outnumbered Dutch fans. Breevort said: "I have been told it is so popular in Russia because they recognize themselves… They share the same mentality, always waiting. It was indeed a big surprise! I never saw it coming!" Breevort created a profile on VK.com and an official public community for Zhdun fans. She said that she spends most of her time at her laptop answering messages but says that she may have better prospects in the future as an artist because of Zhdun's success. According to one site: Homunculus has now taken up residence in a children’s hospital in the Netherlands, tasked with brightening up the lives of young patients.
"I had to make something inspired by the LUMC, the medical center in Leiden, and I didn't want to create something about medicine or illness, but rather about the patients themselves. The way they just have to await their fate in the waiting rooms. About hoping for the best. I wanted it to be a kind of lovable companion, something or someone that gives comfort, but also makes you laugh. In this building, there is also a lot of medical and genetic research going on. So the way the sculpture looks is a bit of a joke towards this research. It's like a failed experiment or product of this research that is hoping and waiting to get better. Like a big, cute, partly human and huggable lump of flesh."
On January 31st, 2017, Tumblr user hellyesbro reblogged a picture of Zhdun sitting in a political meeting with the caption “adjusts microphone/ Snorp” (shown below). The post gained over 35,000 notes and led to the character being spread around Tumblr by the name Snorp.