The real Ken Behrens, the man caught up in the Canberra lockdown meme

We have scoured the planet for the real Ken Behrens and have found him not in Ainslie or Braddon or Calwell but in deepest, darkest Africa.

The real Ken Behrens is a US-born, Madagascar-based biologist, wildlife photographer and field naturalist who has, no doubt, been inexplicably pestered by Canberra journalists wanting to find the living, breathing version of our Lockdown 2.0 Hero.

We emailed the real Ken Behrens this week and had a response from East Africa early Thursday morning, although, fair enough, Ken was a little bamboozled by how his name had become such a touchstone for Covid-times solidarity all the way in the national capital of Australia.

The real Ken Behrens, a nature photographer and tour guide in Africa. Picture: Bill Klipp.

The real Ken Behrens, a nature photographer and tour guide in Africa. Picture: Bill Klipp.

(If you missed it, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr's praise for Canberrans at his televised press conferences became "Ken Behrens" on the automatic captioning, instantly creating a new hero for our times.)

Ken's also had a bit of fun with it on social media, linking to The Canberra Times piece about the meme.

"Becoming a sudden viral sensation in Canberra is a pretty hilarious experience. You're welcome Australia. You're welcome," he wrote.

He did, though, say he was going to stop short of buying some the "We are all Ken Behrens" products now available for sale (with profits reportedly to go to OzHarvest).

We asked the slightly bemused real Ken Behrens if he actually had any connections to Canberra and what he thought of suddenly being thrust into the spotlight.

"No connection with Canberra!" Ken responded.

"Funny that the AI [artificial intelligence] picked up my name as I'm pretty obscure outside of a small circle of wildlife photographers / guides / natural history people.

"Australia has certainly shot to the top of my website hits!"

His name was "picked up" because, phonetically, Canberrans becomes Ken Behrens.

Meanwhile, a redditor with the handle thepushypenguins has said they were responsible for the original subtitle mistake that created the meme of Ken Behrens.

"I think Ken Behrens was my mistake," the user posted on the r/Canberra subreddit on Wednesday.

"So I work for a captioning company and recently captioned an ACT Health COVID presser. I've done a few of them before and they'd been fairly uneventful, but my voice-to-text software had real trouble with the word 'Canberrans'," they wrote.

"In the past it had come out as a few random things, but this time it kept coming out as 'Ken Behrens'."

The user said they were in lockdown in Sydney and thanked people for the warm response to Ken Behrens.

The unrelated @RealKenBehrens Twitter handle, which is fast gaining traction, describes themselves as a typical Canberra resident: "APS 6, dressed by Kathmandu, certified Settler of Catan, Brodburger eating, gin drinker, resident of Camp Baron, Subaru driver".

On his website, the real Ken says he is "a passionate birder, field naturalist, and world traveller, and a trained biologist".

"I have worked for over 10 years as a guide for Tropical Birding. At the same time, I have co-authored several natural history books, which are shown below. I'm also a founding member of Pitta Environmental Consulting, and a director of 8th Continent Expeditions."

Born in the US, Ken first travelled and worked extensively in the western hemisphere and Europe, before moving to Africa, where he has lived for more a decade.

"I now call Madagascar home, along with my wife and children."

- with Miriam Webber

This story Here's the real Ken Behrens, and he's as bemused as you'd expect first appeared on The Canberra Times.