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“Name the gorilla” contest keeps Harambe fever alive

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It’s hard to believe it’s been over three months since the life of a Cincinnati Zoo gorilla was cut short and highly publicized. Thankfully, the internet hasn’t forgotten and it’s enough to make Cecil the Lion jealous.

The shooting death of 17 year old Harambe sparked massive amounts of discussion far past the quarters of his shoddy zoo enclosure. While I argued that the pulling of our heart strings should apply to all animals and encourage hurt individuals to consider veganism, others took to social media to fight about race, class, and other stirring social justice elements that stemmed from the poor decisions of those closely involved in the case. But just as all the RIP memes and sad face emojis began to disappear from Facebook feeds and the conversations quieted, we got treated to the other side of Harambe’s immortalization; dark humour.

Yup, #dicksoutforharambe and a wave of his name being used non-sequentially took over posts on all platforms. It didn’t make sense, it still doesn’t make sense, and that’s the only part where it ties in to the whole incident at all. Call it what you will, but outrage shifted to humour and the sociopaths of the internet have thus made Harambe the meme of the summer, according to The Verge. While I wish people were using his name to channel their rebellion and lead a human and non-human animal revolution, they’re doing it because isn’t it hilarious? Nevertheless, the Philadelphia Zoo must have rocks to live under in their exclosures, because they thought asking the internet to name a newborn gorilla in their “care” wouldn’t go badly. 

Parents Honi and Motuba are proudly splashed on the zoos gorilla webpage, along with an arbitrarily large number of people they think have “taken action to save gorillas.” When they asked twitter to help these new parents name their bundle of joy, they were probably hoping a playful “banana” would be suggested. Nope, Buzzfeed shared a selection of what they got: Harambe, Harambe Jr. Harambino, Harambe 2: Electric Bogaloo, and my personal favourite – HarambeMcHaramFace (although ‘Don’t Shoot’ is a close second).

We have a great history of taking everything that once was sad or upsetting, and either making it comedy or forgetting about it. It’s unclear which path leads us to repeat the past faster, but we bet the Philly Zoo had an “oh yeah” moment when the first few Harambe tweets rolled in. Whether or not people are saying it to highlight the hypocrisy of celebrating bringing a new gorilla life in to captivity, or are just being jerks about it, doesn’t matter. Harambe has been permanently etched in to our history, for good, bad, or hilariously indifferent. 

Still, I hope Harambe’s celebrity isn’t in vain, and that the laughs can lead to some learning, too.

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