Cao ni ma is a common Chinese curse term. It is pronounced something like “tsou nee ma”, and can be written in various ways in mandarin.
Directly translated to English it means “fuck your mom”, but depending on which mandarin letters you use, it can also be translated to “grass mud horse”.
It is equivalent to the English curse word “fuck”, and is used accordingly.
Because of the strict internet censorship in China, you are not allowed to write “fuck your mom”, but you are allowed to write “grass mud horse”, so many use that version as a loophole to curse online.
As a reaction to this, people came up with an imaginary animal, supposedly looking like an alpaca, to describe the grass mud horse.
The Grass Mud Horse that disguises the illegal online curse word was described as one of the 10 mystical animals listed in a hoax article on the Chinese language collaborative called Baidu Baike.
It was first described in 2009 as a species of Alpaca that lives in the Gobi desert.
The funny wordplay and Alpaca cover up has gotten media attention from all around the globe, and own internet forums dedicated to the phenomena.
As a result, video’s, cartoons and merchandise of the non-existing Grass Mud Horse can be purchased online.