Meet Peru’s very own ‘Boop,’ an axolotl with 378k TikTok followers

11-year-old Sara Shin has interacted with people across the world inquiring about her famous pet

Ever heard of an axolotl? It’s an endangered amphibian native to Mexico. It’s pretty funny looking, too.

Thanks to a Peru schoolgirl, millions of TikTok viewers now know about this strange-looking aquatic being.

Sara Shin, an 11-year-old student at Peru Parkside, decided to have a little fun with her axolotl, Boop, a Christmas present from parents Dr. Michael and Kristie Shin. On a whim, Sara used an acrylic paint marker to draw on the aquarium over Boop’s face — variously donning him with a football helmet, top hat and pirate’s eyepatch — and used her phone to record the humorous decorating session.

Sara thought it was funnier than Boop did.

“The first time, it took a bunch of tries,” Sara said. “He would keep moving, biting at the marker on the outside.”

But Sara wasn’t the only one who thought it was funny. In April, she began uploading her doodles with Boop to TikTok.

“And it just blew up,” said Sara, whose videos have collected nearly 12 million “likes” on TikTok.

Boop the axolotl is now a social media sensation and Sara has fielded hordes of questions about her peculiar pet. Queries have poured in from Germany, France, Brazil, Korea, Russia, Japan and China.

The questions include how to feed the axolotl (it’s partial to worms) and how to maintain the tank, which needs to be kept between 60 and 70 degrees. Sara has had to use Google Translate to exchange messages with her global followers.

Sara’s parents are pleased. Axolotls are considered “critically endangered” — thanks to pollution in their native Mexico — and any publicity will only increase awareness and step up efforts to boost the population.

“It’s actually been a really great learning experience for her,” said father Mike Shin.

Sara didn’t know what an axolotl was until about a year ago. She’s a fan of the video game “Minecraft” and one of the real-life creatures depicted in the game is an axolotl. Curious, she looked up the creature and then told her parents she’d like one for Christmas.

“Minecraft started a trend of people wanting axolotls,” said Kristie Shin.

Getting an axolotl in the Shin family fish tank took a bit of doing. While not terribly expensive — an axolotl cost Dr. Shin about $60 from a pet store in Naperville — the popularity of “Minecraft” has made the axolotl an in-demand pet at a time when the worldwide population has dwindled because of pollution, loss of habitat and predation. (This hard-to-miss critter is easy for predators to spot, too.)

Sara’s videos are on TikTok, “boop_the_axolotl” and on YouTube using the search term “boop the axolotl.”