An aquarium has apologized after getting called out for circulating a photo of an otter named “Abby,” along with colloquial language about the otter’s size.
The tweet in question contained a snapshot showing California’s Monteray Bay Aquarium otter relaxing on the ground at an angle emphasizing her stature. (At 11 years old, the cuddly creature who serves as a surrogate mother to otter pups is actually considered just one pound more than her peers, according to the L.A. Times.)
But as the tweet quickly garnered attention on Tuesday, it was the caption that was not lost on the Internet where Twitter users shared their feelings on the matter.
As might be expected, detractors were not on board with the move to apply internet slang that drew from multiple memes associated with African American culture to the otter.
“I’m certain that @MontereyAq didn’t realize that they were basically comparing Black women to animals by using AAVE developed to talk about Black women’s bodies to describe an animal. But that’s pretty bad, MBA,” Chandra Prescod-Weinstein, an assistant professor tweeted on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the aquarium issued their four-part apology on Twitter.
“If our tweet alienated you, please know that we are deeply sorry, and that we offer our sincerest apologies,” the tweet read. “In particular, several terms referenced originated from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and specifically reference Black women’s bodies. Using them in a sea otter meme without that background makes insinuations we never intended.”
As of Thursday morning, Monteray Bay Aquarium appears to be moving on.