When his 5-year-old granddaughter secretly stashed four Peppa Pig figurines into his suitcase, David Zielke did what only the most doting grandpa would: take the piglets on a grand adventure in Mexico, filming it all to bring back home for the little girl.
The Sacramento, California grandfather first filmed Peppa, George, Mummy and Daddy Pig at the pool at his resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Soon, he was filming them on a whale-watching tour, and then a tequila tasting and at a bunch of fancy dinners.
Zielke’s simple act of love has now gone viral. Zielke’s own daughter, Tanya Marie Zielke, was so tickled by her dad’s little project that she started filming him filming the Pig family.
She posted the video to TikTok and it had more than 14 million views as of Friday.
A pig surprise
Zielke’s 5-year-old granddaughter, Lisette, must have snuck her Peppa Pig dolls into her grandpa’s suitcase the night before he left with his wife and other family for Cabo for a wedding.
Zielke, 64, said he had no idea they were in his bag when he zipped it up the morning of the flight but soon found them later that night at the family’s vacation rental.
“I’m opening up my suitcase and I’m unloading stuff and I look at my wife and I go, ‘Look at this, the little stinker put her little Peppa Pig toys in our suitcase,” Zielke told USA TODAY. “So I’m thinking, ‘This is great. I’m just gonna take these guys with me everywhere.”
Zielke knew how much the dejected Lisette had wanted to go on the trip. He figured that showing her the video of her toys on vacation would brighten her spirits when he got home.
“I thought, ‘This is going to be fun, I’m going to really get into it,'” he said. “I did almost 40 video segments. I took them everywhere, the fancy restaurants we went to, down by the pool, down by the beach, out on the boat when we went whale-watching.”
He said he got a few funny looks but that locals and tourists alike were delighted when they found out what he was doing.
“Even down in Cabo, people know Peppa Pig, so they were all like, ‘Oh, Peppa!” he said.
Zielke’s daughter, Tanya Marie Zielke, is a 29-year-old TikTok creator with nearly 1 million followers.
When she saw her dad filming the toys by the pool, she took a quick video and shared it on Instagram.
“I just initially went on my Instagram stories to be like, ‘Oh my God, you guys want to see the sweetest thing? Look at what my dad is up to, this is super cute,'” Tanya Marie Zielke told USA TODAY.
She said she was a bit surprised at the immediate and enthusiastic response.
“People were like, ‘Keep us updated on where Peppa Pig goes!’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God, people are actually taking to this,'” she said.
Once she got a longer video up on TikTok, the responses showed it had struck a nerve.
“CRYING,” one user wrote. Another commented that her dad “is such a treasure.”
“The purity and wholesomeness in this, OMG,” another said.
Though no social media influencer himself, Zielke said he thinks he knows why the video ended up getting so much attention.
“It’s just joy,” he said. “I think the video shows the playful joy of me as a grandpa having fun with this and being like a kid.”
His daughter, who has a background in the news industry, said she thinks people are eager to read stories that make them smile when so much of the news shows the violence and tragedy in the world.
“Things like this, they warm your heart,” she said.
Though Tanya Marie Zielke is a creator who’s gone viral before, it’s totally new for her dad, a high school math teacher of 32 years who’s never posted a TikTok himself.
“This has been a unique experience because we kind of do our jobs in anonymity,” he said, adding that his students knew he was TikTok famous within 48 hours of the video posting.
“They were like, ‘Oh, you’re a celebrity,’ and I’m just saying, ‘Oh great, OK,'” he said.
But the whole experience has only validated his belief that “life is a gift” and his own father’s last words to him before he died.
“Be good to each other,” he said. “Try to be a source of light in our world.”