In May, 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla Harambe was shot dead after a boy entered it’s enclosure.
This incident instantly sparked backlash worldwide as people were appalled that Cincinnati Zoo decided to kill the gorilla due to the actions of the three-year-old boy and his family that neglected to stop him from going where he shouldn’t.
Despite the zoo spokesperson announcing that they took the necessary measures to ensure the boy’s safety, the zoo received an outpour of anger from over 500,000 signatures on a ‘Justice for Harambe’ petition.
Although Harambe’s death was originally mourned by people that just wanted to see animals’ lives reconsidered in new ways going ahead, it seems that jokers, satirists and campaigners have taken the gorilla’s death to new heights.
Cincinnati Zoo has been bombarded with online jokes and memes that mock Harambe’s death as well as his legacy.
The gorilla has appeared in tongue-in-cheeks petitions to rename the hometown Cincinnati Bengals, he has been written into song lyrics and a poll in Texas even suggested that he would get 2% of the vote in the U.S Presidential race.
Rather than moving on from this event, internet users are partaking in the creation and sharing of the endless stream of jokes.
Campaigners have jokingly nominated Harambe for president and called for him to be put on a dollar or carved into Mount Rushmore.
The zoo still stand by their decision to end the gorilla’s life in precaution to save any damage being caused to the little boy, but the staff there say they are “not amused” by the memes and that they are actually preventing them from moving on from the tragedy.
Despite speaking out about how they wanted to move on, the jokes and memes didn’t stop flooding in. Cincinnati Zoo has since had to shut down its Facebook and Twitter pages in another attempt to stop the abuse.
Zoo director Thane Maynard said: “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.”
To add fuel to the fire, Mr Maynard’s personal Twitter account was hacked just days ago by someone who posted numerous Harambe-themed hashtags, including #JusticeForHarambe and #D***sOutForHarambe.
The alleged hacker also replaced Maynard’s profile picture with one of Harambe and said he did it because he “was kinda angry at the dude who shot him”.
This hacker is amongst many who have used the hashtag #RIPHarambe, even when the post is not relevant to the gorillas death.
Since the accident in May, the zoo reopened its Gorilla World exhibit in June – with the addition of a higher barrier that will hopefully prevent any similar accidents from happening in the future.
This shows that despite the zoo’s efforts to move on from the tragedy, it is now down to the public to get past it too.
An online petition to end the Harambe online petitions once and for all was even started by WCPO-TV web editor, James Leggate.
He said “At first, the petitioners had good intentions. But then the goofuses of the Internet hopped on the Harambe train for their jollies, and it has gotten out of control.
Animal rights activist Anthony Seta, who organised a Cincinnati vigil in tribute to Harambe soon after his death, said: ‘For the most part, I’m very happy with it. It shows people are remembering what a wonderful being he was.
But the ones that are mocking and making light of the death of this being, I find incredibly offensive.”