John Oliver wants to improve the news this week and he needs your help to #JustAddZebras to everything.
The back story of the movement comes from the Bolivian city of La Paz, which has a long-standing history of traffic accidents. To rectify that situation, the government introduced a very unique solution: traffic zebras.
Oliver explained that these traffic zebras, costumed men and women who dance in crosswalks to encourage traffic safety, was based on a similar program in Colombia where they used traffic mimes. “As far as it comes to having mimes roaming around your city, we can all agree — no,” said Oliver.
The program has been in place since 2010, and started with 24 traffic zebras. The number quickly expanded to more 265 costumed zebras dancing for traffic safety. “It may look like fun to people, this is a real job with strict rules,” said Oliver, noting that one of them is “never take your head off.”
Not only do these zebras help stop traffic fatalities, but the program also provides much needed jobs for the community. One additional benefit, according to Oliver, is that these frolicking zebras provide a much needed injection of mirth into a dour news cycle. To prove his point, he made his own dancing zebra and inserted it into footage of President Trump’s inauguration and the ugly-cry-inducing Manchester by the Sea. He even added a zebra to Rachel Maddow’s show to help make the build-up to the release of Trump’s tax return more enjoyable.
Now, he wants to share the fun. Last Week Tonight has released three different green screen iterations of the zebra online and is encouraging people to do what they will with it with the promise that they share with the hashtag #JustAddZebras.