The Gorilla Named Harambe

Harambe reaching out to touch a child in the enclosure at Cincinnati zoo. The child is in the water.
Harambe with the child in the enclosure.

A Gorilla Named Harambe

Harambe was a Western lowland gorilla born in captivity at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. He had a Cameroonian mother named Koko and American father named Moja. Harambe gained his fame at the Cincinnati Zoo since he was transferred there at age four. 

The Tragic Death of Harambe

On May 28, 2016, a tragic event occurred at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. A child fell into the gorilla enclosure, and Harambe—a 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla—was shot and killed by zoo staff.

This incident has raised many questions about how zoos should handle these situations, but one thing is clear: Harambe’s death did not have to happen. We can all learn something from this terrible tragedy: keep your kids close.

The Zoo’s Response to the Incident

The Cincinnati Zoo’s response to the incident was not only swift but also a model of transparency and decency.

The zoo posted a video on Facebook showing Harambe as he sat on top of the child. The caption below it read: “Harambe, 17 years old and 360 pounds, was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure Saturday May 28.”

In an interview with CNN (via ABC News), director Thane Maynard said that while they’d been monitoring the situation closely, they felt confident in their decision to shoot the gorilla because he had become increasingly agitated, even though he’d never shown any signs of aggression toward visitors before this incident occurred. He emphasized that Harambe was not tranquilized because it wouldn’t have worked quickly enough; by shooting him instead, they could ensure that Harambe wouldn’t suffer unnecessarily or attack another visitor.

Harambe Becomes a Meme

The death of Harambe became a meme after his incident, mostly because people found it funny. Not the actual death, but everything else. Today, you can find thousands of Harambe memes online, usually making light of the gorilla’s death and using it as a stand-in for any tragic event in history. Some people use the meme to make political points, like when someone tweeted: “Harambe is why I changed my party from Democrat to Republican.”

Others prefer to use their creativity with this popular phrase and draw up creative pictures that feature Harambe giving a thumbs up or smiling at them.

One response to “The Gorilla Named Harambe”

  1. monke

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: