Three months after Harambe’s death, his memory lives on. His photos are emblazoned across the Internet from memes to political ads. Recently, one Harambe supporter created a petition like no other. Lance Levesque wants the 17-year-old silverback gorilla to become the newest face of a dollar bill.
The Virginia-based enthusiast created a Change.org petition urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury to have a bill honoring the late gorilla.
“I think that a national hero and/or a national treasure should be on the dollar bill. With the recent conflicts with police brutality in our country I see no one better fit to be on the dollar bill than Harambe the gorilla.”
Levesque started the petition two months ago. Once the petition accomplishes its 25,000 target signatures, Levesque will deliver the letter to the department, as well as to Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew. The petition now has 21,000 supporters.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Zoo has deactivated both its Facebook and Twitter accounts because of the seemingly relentless backlash from social media users. Facebook comments and Twitter mentions continue to haunt the zoo even if its posts are not related to Harambe.
According to the Associated Press, Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard pleaded the public to stop sharing memes about Harambe. The zoo’s staff members are reportedly not amused for they are still grieving.
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe. Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us.”
Maynard himself had been a victim when his Twitter account got hacked. The hacker replaced the director’s profile picture with an image of Harambe. He also used the account to post several hashtags such as #JusticeForHarambe and #DicksOutForHarambe. The hacker was allegedly angry at the zoo personnel who shot Harambe.
Experts continue to weigh in on the unfortunate happening. For primatologist Frans de Waal, social media users should refrain from joking about the tragedy as a sign of respect for the zoo.
He also told the Guardian that regardless of how devastating the news was, something good came out of the tragic event.
“I do feel that the incident raised awareness that we should take seriously the life of an adult gorilla. I think this side of the incident was positive: people paid attention, and may as a result have read comments on the intelligence or lives of gorillas.”
Even if the zoo closed its Facebook and Twitter accounts, some appear to be unstoppable by resorting to the zoo’s Instagram page. Another petition surfaced asking Nintendo to immortalize Harambe by turning him into a Pokémon.
After being closed since the tragic death of 17-year-old silverback Harambe on May 28, 2016, the Gorilla World exhibit reopened to the public this morning. Zoo employees and volunteers gathered in the exhibit early this morning, before the Zoo opened, to see gorillas for the first time in ten days. Before reopening the exhibit, the Zoo installed a new, taller public barrier with knotted rope netting and surveillance cameras. In addition to fortifying the gorilla exhibit, the Zoo is redoubling its efforts to support wild gorilla conservation. The Cincinnati Zoo is proud to have supported and partnered with the Mblei Bai Study and related gorilla research efforts in North Congo for the past 15 years. “This has been a difficult and emotional time for everyone at the Zoo, especially Harambe’s caretakers. We’ve never been through anything like this, and the experience has been surreal,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “I see today’s reopening as the symbolic start of a healing process for our staff, our members and the Cincinnati community.”
Many are hoping that Harambe’s sacrifice will make zoos more cautious about their enclosures, and parents will be more mindful of their toddlers.
The zoo had to make the difficult decision of shooting Harambe after a three-year-old crawled past the barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure.
The mother of the boy faced criticism, with some asking the authorities to file criminal charges against the boy’s parents. As per Metro, Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters acknowledged everyone’s grief, but he clarified that no charges would be filed.
The preschooler’s mother released a statement on Facebook but found herself being lambasted by critics for her alleged negligence. The hateful comments prompted her to delete her post and her account.
Wildlife expert Jeff Corwin also called out the parent and said, “Zoos aren’t your babysitter.” For the television personality, the tragedy did not happen in seconds or minutes.
Nonetheless, many also came to the parents’ defense by citing that accidents happen no matter how careful you are.
[Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]