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Friday 30 September 2016

Cincinnati zoo pleads with internet to stop memes and jokes about Harambe

Catherine Devine

Published 22/08/2016 | 22:51

A June 20, 2015 photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden shows Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, who was fatally shot Saturday, May 28, 2016, to protect a 4-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit
A June 20, 2015 photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden shows Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, who was fatally shot Saturday, May 28, 2016, to protect a 4-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit

The director of the Cincinnati zoo has pleaded with people to stop making memes and humorous online comments about Harambe, the gorilla that was shot and killed after a child fell into its enclosure.

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Thane Maynard said “our zoo family is still healing” and that the online comments are "upsetting" staff.

“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” Maynard told the Associated Press. “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."

The 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla was shot after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure after climbing over a barrier that has since been heightened. Fearing for the boy's safety, zoo officials shot the gorilla.

Debates touched on everything from whether zoo staff were correct to shoot him to making him into a Pokemon Go character.

Read More: Zoo where gorilla shot dead reopens today - a week after boy fell into pen

Ashley Byrne, an associate director at PETA, said that the trolls were in the minority among the people who were mourning the gorilla.

"This tragic incident really did start a new conversation," she said. "Most people who saw the video came away with a great degree of empathy for animals forced to live in captivity."

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