Celebrating the six month anniversary of the death of Harambe.

By Sophia Muroff (’18)

On May 27, 1999, two proud parents, Moja and Kayla, welcomed their son into the world at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Harambe, a Western Lowland gorilla, was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on May 28, 2016. On that fateful morning in May, a three-year-old visitor climbed a fence, crawled through bushes, and fell fifteen feet into the shallow moat of the Gorilla World Habitat.

While the boy’s parents stood on the other side of the barrier, Harambe investigated the unexpected visitor splashing in the water for the next ten minutes and became increasingly unsettled and flustered by the screams of onlookers. At a news conference, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said, “The gorilla was clearly agitated; the gorilla was clearly disoriented.” Wouldn’t you be if a snot-nosed child entered your bedroom unannounced?

Whether or not Harambe intended to hurt the boy was less of an issue than the fact that he could do so with just the brute force of swinging him around. Fearing for the boy’s life, the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team chose not to tranquilize Harambe, but to kill him with a single rifle shot. Harambe only had one day to be “young and sweet, only seventeen.”

The shooting of Harambe was very controversial not only among animal lovers, but among the neighboring animals themselves. Some claim to have heard the roaring of lions, the trumpeting of elephants, and the chattering of monkeys. All these sounds affirmed the fact that Harambe’s friends and neighbors were either deeply disturbed or ecstatically elated by his death.

Six months since his death, Harambe has continued to live on through memes circulating the internet. While some find it amusing to document Harambe’s historical sixteen years and one day, we must not forget the prints left on our hearts by Harambe’s opposable thumb and big toe.

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