Harambe the Gorilla Is Dead. Get Over It.

3 minute read

Darlena Cunha is a contributor to TIME

Three months after a Cincinnati Zoo official shot and killed a gorilla named Harambe to save the life of a young boy who had fallen into the gorilla’s pit at the zoo, people on the Internet are refusing to let go of the tragedy.

Are these Internet voices raising money to establish better security measures at zoos? Are they donating their time to raise awareness about the Silverback Gorilla and its habitat? Are they supporting the structures in place that allow for rehabilitation and repopulation of endangered species?


They’re trolling. The original flood of angry messages over the killing of the gorilla has turned into a meme mocking those who mourned his death. There are more than 170 petitions on Change.org related to Harambe, including calls erect a White House statue of the gorilla and change the name of Cincinnati to “Harambe City.” He’s even appeared on t-shirts and in presidential polls.

It’s getting old. One-liners and racist jokes have taken over what could have been a very poignant message about animal rights, child safety and public spaces.

Trolling serves no purpose, and those who think otherwise are lazy activists at best and bullies at worst. The Cincinnati Zoo deactivated its Twitter account to get away from the harassment.

None of this Internet “activism” brings Harambe back. All that hacking Zoo Director Thane Maynard’s Twitter account did was take time and resources from one of the good guys. Maynard may have defended the decision to shoot Harambe, but you don’t get to be a director of a zoo without years of proven dedication to animals and their wellbeing and their future. Punishment is not the same as justice, and those who confuse the two would do well to examine the motives behind their supposed fury.

If they’re doing it to help gorillas, they’ve failed. If they’re doing it to get a rise out of The Cincinnati Zoo, well, they may have succeeded, but at what cost? If they’re doing it just to be funny, get over it already.

Instead of working to create a better future, people are laughing at a tragedy and standing in the way of its solution. I would rather actually do something about it, like supporting the World Wildlife Federation or raising money for rehabilitation programs. Let’s let Harambe rest in peace.

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