The Cincinnati Zoo is “not amused” with memes featuring a deceased gorilla named Harambe. According to reports, the memes were posted via a hacked Twitter account owned by Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard.
Although the issue was quickly resolved, the hackers managed to send several questionable memes before the account was restored to the rightful owner. Maynard said the “jokes” are specifically disturbing because the “zoo family is still healing” from the animal’s untimely death.
— UPROXX (@UPROXX) August 22, 2016
As reported by People, Harambe the gorilla was born and raised at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. In April 2015, at the age of 16, the Western lowland gorilla was moved to the Cincinnati Zoo to integrate him with gorillas outside his family.
In addition to introducing him to a new social circle, the Cincinnati Zoo hoped to breed Harambe when he reached sexual maturity. Unfortunately, the gorilla was killed before he made it to the appropriate breeding age.
— Martin Daubney (@MartinDaubney) August 22, 2016
On May 28, 2016, a 3-year-old boy fell into the Cincinnati Zoo enclosure where Harambe was housed. According to witness reports, the gorilla approached the child and stood over him in a threatening manner. He then grabbed the little boy and “violently dragged him through [a] shallow moat.”
In an attempt to protect the child from further physical harm, Cincinnati Zoo officials made the difficult decision to have Harambe euthanized.
— PARTY & DESTROY (@partyfavormusic) August 22, 2016
The 17-year-old gorilla was subsequently shot and killed. Officials confirmed the toddler was then removed from the enclosure without further incident or injury.
The gorilla’s death drew international attention for a variety of reasons.
Many people argued that the mother was at fault for losing sight of her toddler son. Indeed, the unnamed woman was facing charges of criminal child neglect. However, as reported by CNN, prosecutors ultimately determined the “mother did not act in any way where she presented [her] child to some harm.”
— Petrol Boomin (@A_A_Ron_Rodgers) August 17, 2016
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said the woman “had three other kids with her” on the day in question and simply “turned her back” for a moment. Deters underlined the fact that “a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly.”
In addition to condemning the mother, critics have argued that the Cincinnati Zoo did not have to euthanize the gorilla.
Although video footage clearly shows Harambe dragging the toddler through the enclosure, some people have argued that the gorilla was simply trying to move the child away from the screaming crowd.
Harambe’s true intentions may never be known. However, as reported by Time, primatologist Jane Goodall confirmed the Cincinnati Zoo made the right decision.
“It was awful for the child, the parents, Harambe, the zoo, the keepers and the public. But when people come into contact with wild animals, life and death decisions sometimes have to be made… “
It has been nearly three months since Harambe was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo. Unfortunately, the gorilla remains the subject of internet memes, jokes, and a number of phony and real petitions.
As reported by Associated Press, the late gorilla’s image and name have been used in numerous internet memes and fake petitions, which suggest, for example, that Harambe should run for president of the United States or replace George Washington on the one dollar bill.
Although a majority of the memes and petitions are meant to be jokes, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard does not believe the gorilla’s death is a laughing matter. He is particularly upset that his Twitter account was hacked to send the memes to his followers.
In a statement about the incident, Maynard said the entire Cincinnati “zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult.”
The Cincinnati Zoo director said Harambe would be better honored with contributions to organizations that promote to gorilla conservation.
[Image via KiltedArab/Shutterstock]