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Killing of Harambe

killing of harambe, killing of harambe the gorilla
On May 28, 2016, a three-year-old boy climbed into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and was grabbed and dragged by Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla Fearing for the boy's life, a zoo worker shot and killed Harambe The incident was recorded on video and received broad international coverage and commentary, including controversy over the choice to kill Harambe A number of primatologists and conservationists wrote later that the zoo had no other choice under the circumstances, and that it highlighted the danger of zoo animals in close proximity to humans and the need for better standards of care


  • 1 Harambe biography
  • 2 Incident
  • 3 Reactions
    • 31 Internet memes
    • 32 Popular culture
  • 4 Later developments
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links

Harambe biography

"Harambe" redirects here For the Kenyan tradition, see Harambee For other uses, see Harambe disambiguation

Harambe /həˈrɑːmbeɪ/ hə-RAHM-bay was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, on May 27, 1999 He was named by Dan Van Coppenolle, a local area counselor who won a naming contest sponsored by the zoo1 He came up with the name after listening to the song "Harambe Working Together for Freedom" by Rita Marley, widow of Bob Marley2 Harambee is a Swahili term for communal labor2

On September 18, 2014, Harambe was transferred to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden to learn adult gorilla behavior and join a new social group34


Species Western lowland gorilla
Sex Male
Born 1999-05-27May 27, 1999
Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville, Texas, US
Died May 28, 20162016-05-28 aged 17
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cincinnati, Ohio, US
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

On May 28, 2016, a three-year-old5 boy visiting the Cincinnati Zoo fell into the moat at the Gorilla World habitat6 Witnesses said they heard the child say he wanted to go into the gorilla enclosure7 The boy then climbed a 3-foot-tall 091 m fence, crawled through 4 feet 12 m of bushes, and then fell 15 feet 46 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 water6

Over the next 10 minutes, Harambe became increasingly "agitated and disoriented" by the screams of onlookers89 He dragged the child through the water, occasionally propping him up when he sat, or pushing him down when he stood8 Harambe exhibited "strutting" behavior—walking around with legs and arms stiffly extended to appear bigger—a bluffing move, though one with inherent danger should he throw or drag the boy around too roughly9 Harambe then carried the boy up a ladder out of the moat onto dry land Afraid for the boy's life, zoo officials made the decision to kill the gorilla, doing so with a single rifle shot Cincinnati firefighters said the boy was between Harambe's legs when the shot was fired6 Harambe was killed one day after his 17th birthday8


The incident was recorded in a dramatic video by an anonymous bystander and uploaded to YouTube, where it went viral sparking global publicity and controversy1011 Some observers said that it was unclear whether Harambe was likely to harm the child1213 Others called for the boy's parents or the zoo to be held accountable for the gorilla's death14 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"151617 Police investigated possible criminal charges against the parents, while the parents defended the zoo's actions1819 The boy's mother also became the target of harassment on the Internet and social media20 On June 6, 2016, Ohio prosecutor Joe Deters said that the mother would not face any charges of wrongdoing21 The zoo was being investigated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums AZA, which sets the standards for zoos, and the USDA22

Several vigils took place to honor Harambe's death As much as 3,400 people had attended a candlelight vigil at Hyde Park in London, United Kingdom23 Anthony Seta, an activist who represents the Cincinnati Collective for Animal Rights and Education, organized a vigil at the Cincinnati Zoo to honor the loss of Harambe In an interview by the press, he emphasized that animals feel and have emotions just like humans do Seta said, "I'm not here to decide what was right and what was wrong, the fact is that a gorilla who just celebrated his birthday has been killed I am out here to speak to remember him, because he can't do it"24

The incident received criticism from several high-profile celebrities, including Ricky Gervais, Brian May, and Piers Morgan25

The incident sparked debate among biologists and primatologists on whether gorillas and other primates should be held in captivity at all9 Primatologist Jane Goodall said that according to the video it seemed Harambe was trying to protect the child26 Goodall later issued a longer explanation in an interview with the president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, concluding that the zoo had no choice but to kill Harambe27 She wrote, "It was awful for the child, the parents, Harambe, the zoo, the keepers and the public But when people come into contact with wild animals, life and death decisions sometimes have to be made"22 Goodall said that as long as humans and wild animals are kept in close proximity in zoos, there is no way to prevent accidents from happening, but she believed that zoos "with the highest standards of care" could play an important role22 Zookeeper Jack Hanna strongly defended the zoo's actions as the "correct decision", noting that a tranquilizer dart might have taken five or ten minutes to take effect and could have aggravated Harambe further28 Primatologist Frans de Waal said he saw few options for the zoo: "A gorilla is so immensely strong that even with the best of intentions—and we are not sure that Harambe had those—the child's death was a probable outcome”29

Internet memes

Following the killing, Harambe became subject of multiple viral memes30 Vox wrote in November that Harambe has an "undeniable status as 2016’s meme of the year"31 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"32 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"3033 For example, the "Dicks out for Harambe" meme can be seen as a fake tribute to an incident that would normally engender sincere mourning3334 As Aja Romano of Vox wrote, "If you were a progressive, the Harambe meme gave you a chance to mock what you viewed as the hypocritical haranguing of the mainstream while avoiding real issues of social justice; and if you were a conservative, the Harambe meme gave you a chance to mock liberal hysteria"3334 One meme is a play on conspiracy theories, such as "Bush did Harambe", a reference to the 9/11 conspiracy theories35 In Australia, people joked about supporting Harambe's corpse as a write-in candidate on the ballot for the federal election36 Public Policy Polling included Harambe in their polling for the US presidential election The dead gorilla had 5% support in late July 2016 ahead of Green Party nominee Jill Stein and 2% in August 2016 tied with Stein3738 Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard reacted negatively: "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"39 In late August, the zoo deleted its Twitter account after being daily targeted by trolls mentioning Harambe40 However, after two months, the zoo had resumed its account4142

Popular culture

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 MUGEN, a customizable fighting game434445

American rappers Young Thug and Dumbfoundead each released songs entitled "Harambe" The former did so on his album Jeffery, each track of which is named after one of his "idols", although the song does not reference the gorilla;4647 the latter likens the fate of the ape to gang violence and police brutality48 Canadian dubstep producer Excision included a song titled "Harambe" on his 2016 album Virus49

On naming contests for newborn baby gorillas, a teenager made a petition to Dublin Zoo to name a newborn baby gorilla as "Harambe Jr" "Harambetta" if female after Dublin Zoo announced the newborn baby gorilla by tweet50

On June 16, 2017, satire news site The Onion featured an article of professional wrestler The Big Show being killed by WWE after a seven-year-old boy wandered into a steel cage during a live event in Indianapolis51

Later developments

In September 2017, a replacement for Harambe was added, Mshindi, a 29-year-old western lowland gorilla from the Louisville Zoo He joined females Chewie, 21, and Mara, 22, who were present the day of the killing At the same time, the zoo was creating a new indoor habitat where the public could view the gorillas year-round52

See also

  • Cincinnati portal
  • Ohio portal
  • 2010s portal
  • Animal rights portal
  • Binti Jua
  • Jambo
  • Killing of Cecil the lion
  • Tatiana the Tiger
  • Mary elephant
  • Topsy elephant
  • Vince rhinoceros


  1. ^ Bigfoot Journeys 27 January 2014 "Announcing the name of a baby lowland gorilla, "Harambe"" – via YouTube 
  2. ^ a b Coppenolle, Dan Van "The real lesson of Harambe" 
  3. ^ Staff, WCPO 14 April 2015 "Cincinnati Zoo gets silverback gorilla Harambe for 'spring training'" Archived from the original on 31 May 2016 
  4. ^ "New Rookie Silverback in Gorilla World for Spring Training - The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden" 14 April 2015 
  5. ^ "Gorilla killing: 3-year-old boy's mother won't be charged" CNN 6 June 2016 Retrieved 22 August 2016 
  6. ^ a b c Cameron Knight June 1, 2016 "How boy got into gorilla enclosure" USA Today Cincinnaticom Retrieved June 20, 2016 a 3-year-old boy dropped into the Gorilla World exhibit 
  7. ^ John Shammas May 30, 2016 "Mum of boy who fell into gorilla zoo enclosure blasts critics saying 'accidents happen'" Mirror Retrieved June 20, 2016 
  8. ^ a b c Carla Hall May 31, 2016 "Lesson of the Cincinnati gorilla killing: The zoo is not a playground" Los Angeles Times Retrieved June 20, 2016 
  9. ^ a b c Natalie Angier June 6, 2016 "Do Gorillas Even Belong in Zoos Harambe's Death Spurs Debate" The New York Times Retrieved June 20, 2016 
  10. ^ Cincinnati zoo kills gorilla to save boy who fell into enclosure on YouTube
  11. ^ "Zoo faces backlash over decision to shoot gorilla dead after boy, 4, fell into enclosure" London Evening Standard May 29, 2016 Retrieved May 30, 2016 
  12. ^ "Killed Gorilla Seemed to Protect Child Who Fell in Enclosure: Witness" NBC News Retrieved May 30, 2016 
  13. ^ "Gorilla shot dead in zoo: Killing unnecessary, primate expert says - Video" NewsComAu May 30, 2016 Retrieved May 30, 2016 
  14. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella 2016-05-29 "Critics blame parents, Cincinnati Zoo for gorilla's death" CNN Retrieved 2016-05-31 
  15. ^ McPhate, Kate May 30, 2016 "Zoo's Killing of Gorilla Holding a Boy Prompts Outrage" The New York Times Retrieved May 31, 2016 
  16. ^ Ralph, Ellis; Rose, Rashard May 29, 2016 "Gorilla shot to save child at Cincinnati zoo" CNN Retrieved May 30, 2016 
  17. ^ "Gorilla Killed After Child Enters Enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo" The New York Times May 30, 2016 Retrieved May 30, 2016 
  18. ^ "Gorilla killing at Cincinnati zoo sparks probe into possible criminal charges" Reuters 
  19. ^ John Shammas 1 June 2016 "Astonishing new footage shows gorilla 'PROTECTING' boy and holding his hand before being shot dead" Daily Mirror 
  20. ^ Chai, Carmen "Harambe's death: Is the parent-shaming over gorilla's death going overboard" 
  21. ^ CNN, Madison Park and Holly Yan "Gorilla killing: 3-year-old boy's mother won't be charged" 
  22. ^ a b c Jane Goodall June 19, 2016 "Jane Goodall, Azzedine Downes together offer thoughts on tragic Harambe killing" International Fund for Animal Welfare Retrieved June 20, 2016 
  23. ^ Jeffrey, Yasmin 2016-10-27 "CANDLES OUT FOR HARAMBE 3,400 people to attend candlelit vigil for Harambe the Gorilla in London" The Sun Retrieved 2017-06-06 
  24. ^ "Vigil called at Cincinnati Zoo in tribute to slain gorilla" The Los Angeles Times 2016-05-30 Retrieved 2017-06-06 
  25. ^ Chris Graham May 31, 2016 "Celebrities joins backlash over shooting of Harambe the gorilla - but Ohio zoo defends decision" The Daily Telegraph Retrieved May 31, 2016 
  26. ^ Goodall, Jane "Memo RE: Shooting of Harambe at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens" PDF janegoodallorg Retrieved 16 June 2016 
  27. ^ Melissa Chan June 20, 2016 "Jane Goodall Says Zoo Was Right to Kill Harambe the Gorilla" Time Yahoo! News Retrieved June 20, 2016 
  28. ^ "Jack Hanna defends Cincinnati Zoo's decision to kill gorilla" USA Today Retrieved 3 August 2016 
  29. ^ Harambe's Behavior May Have Been Normal Gorilla Play, Michael Greshko National Geographic, May 31, 2016
  30. ^ a b Abby Ohlheiser July 27, 2016 "The Internet won't let Harambe rest in peace" The Washington Post Retrieved August 18, 2016 
  31. ^ Romano, Aja 9 November 2016 "Those claims that Harambe won 20,000 votes are based on nothing" 
  32. ^ Heigl, Alex 15 August 2016 "Harambe the Gorilla's Bizarre Eternal Life as an Internet Meme" People 
  33. ^ a b c Brian Feldman July 27, 2016 "The Dark Internet Humor of Harambe Jokes" New York Retrieved August 18, 2016 
  34. ^ a b Romano, Aja 17 August 2016 "The Harambe meme is still going strong And it's about a lot more than a dead gorilla" Vox 
  35. ^ Reigstad, Leif 17 August 2016 "George W Bush Didn't Kill Harambe, The Internet Is Just Weird" Texas Monthly 
  36. ^ Elle Hunt July 2, 2016 "Vote for Harambe: Australian election gives second life to Cincinnati zoo gorilla" The Guardian Retrieved August 18, 2016 
  37. ^ Firozi, Paulina 17 August 2016 "Poll: Jill Stein tied with Harambe, trailing Deez Nutz in Texas" The Hill 
  38. ^ Silverstein, Jason 31 July 2016 "Harambe the dead gorilla would fare well as independent presidential candidate, poll says" Daily News New York 
  39. ^ Griffin, Andrew 22 August 2016 "Harambe: Stop making memes of our dead gorilla, Cincinnati Zoo pleads" The Independent 
  40. ^ Mark Molloy August 23, 2016 "Cincinnati Zoo deletes Twitter account over abuse and memes of dead gorilla Harambe" The Daily Telegraph Associated Press Retrieved August 23, 2016 
  41. ^ "Cincinnati Zoo rejoins Twitter following Harambe controversy" Fox News Associated Press October 21, 2016 Retrieved October 21, 2016 
  42. ^ Sewell, Dan April 22, 2017 "Premature hippo a happy hit for Ohio zoo after gorilla death" ABC News Retrieved April 22, 2017 
  43. ^ Hernandez, Patricia "Someone Put Harambe In Street Fighter, Because Why Not" Kotaku Retrieved 2016-09-17 
  44. ^ Good, Owen "Dear God, someone has made Harambe vs Capcom" Polygon Retrieved 2016-09-17 
  45. ^ Lemon, Marshall "Harambe Vs Capcom turns tragic story into a parody game" VG247 Retrieved 2016-09-17 
  46. ^ "Young Thug's New No, My Name Is JEFFERY Mixtape Has Songs for Harambe and Rihanna, and an Incredible Cover: Listen" Pitchfork Media 26 August 2016 Retrieved 30 August 2016 
  47. ^ "Young Thug writes a song for Harambe, forgets Harambe" The Verge 26 August 2016 Retrieved 30 August 2016 
  48. ^ Braboy, Mark August 19, 2016 "Dumbfoundead Addresses These Turbulent Times In "Harambe"" Retrieved September 11, 2016 
  49. ^ Meadow, Matthew 2016-10-25 "Excision releases his third studio album "Virus"" Your EDM Retrieved 2016-11-01 
  50. ^ "Teen petitions Dublin Zoo to name baby gorilla Harambe Jr" The Daily Dot 2016-07-29 Retrieved 2017-01-03 
  51. ^ "WWE Staff Forced To Shoot Aggressive Wrestler After Child Climbs Into Steel Cage" theonioncom 16 June 2017 Retrieved 13 July 2017 
  52. ^ "Cincinnati Zoo Introduces First Gorilla Since the Death of Harambe" Yahoo! News September 15, 2017 Retrieved September 17, 2017 

External links

  • Photos of Harambe at Gladys Porter Zoo

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Killing of Harambe

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