Today is the one year anniversary of Harambe’s death, so here’s a look back at the history of Harambe memes
Harambe the Gorilla | Know Your Meme
Harambe: A year from gorilla death which sparked numerous memes
If somehow you haven’t been on the internet for the last 365 days, Haramabe was a 17 year old western gorilla that lived in Cincinnati Zoo. On May 28th 2016, a three-year-old boy feel into the gorilla enclosure, and fearing for the infant’s safety, a zoo employee shot and killed Harambe when he picked the child.
The incident was controversial – the child survived unharmed, but a seemingly innocent animal was killed. It raised questions about whether we should even be keeping animals like Harambe in captivity. It was a complicated and nuanced situation.
Of course, the internet didn’t see it like that. After an initial burst of outrage from genuinely angry environmentalists, Harambe became one massive in- joke, the ultimate meme. Whereas most memes are increasingly quickly co-opted by brands and business, the Harambe meme was still about the death of an animal. It was too morbid for anyone to want to monetise, so the meme lived on, getting weirder and weirder.
Harambe grabbed and dragged the boy after he fell into the moat; officials feared for the child’s life.
|Time||4:00 p.m. EDT|
|Date||May 28, 2016|
|Location||Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, U.S.|
On May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy visiting the Cincinnati Zoo fell into the moat at the Gorilla World habitat. Witnesses said they heard the child say he wanted to go into the gorilla enclosure.The boy then climbed a 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) fence, crawled through 4 feet (1.2 m) of bushes, and then fell 15 feet (4.6 m) into a moat of shallow water. Zoo officials immediately signaled for the three gorillas in the habitat to return inside, and two females did so. However, the third gorilla, the inquisitive 440-pound (200 kg) male silverback, Harambe, climbed down into the moat to investigate the child splashing in the water.
The shooting was controversial, with some observers stating that it was unclear whether Harambe was likely to harm the child. Others called for the boy’s parents or the zoo to be held accountable for the gorilla’s death.Director Thane Maynard stated, “The child was being dragged around … His head was banging on concrete. This was not a gentle thing. The child was at risk.
Following the killing, Harambe became subject of multiple viral memes.Vox wrote in November that Harambe has an “undeniable status as 2016’s meme of the year.” As People magazine wrote: “Harambe continues to live on in the collective mind of the internet, entering into a rarefied state of venerated meme status.” One of the most widespread memes was noted by The Washington Post and New York magazine who observed a proliferation of over-the-top and fake tributes to Harambe. “The idea is, the more intense and more sincere-seeming the expression of mourning is, the funnier the joke.
A self-described underground culture collective known as Otaku Gang released a computer parody fighting game known as Harambe vs. Capcom, with Harambe being able to fight characters from Capcom’s Street Fighter franchise. The game itself is a fullgame of M.U.G.E.N, a customizable fighting game.
|Species||Western lowland gorilla|
|Born||May 27, 1999
Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville, Texas, U.S.
|Died||May 28, 2016 (aged 17)
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
|Known for||Circumstances of death|
|Residence||Gladys Porter Zoo (1999–2014)
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (2014–2016)
|Weight||440 lb (200 kg)|
|Named after||“Harambe (Working Together for Freedom)”, song by Rita Marley|