CINCINNATI, OH (WCMH/AP) — The Cincinnati Zoo’s Twitter account was deleted overnight following weeks of endless harassment in the name of Harambe.
The @CincinnatiZoo Twitter account disappeared without explanation Monday night, just a day after Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard asked for the Harambe memes to stop.
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo director, said by email. “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 .”
Social media users like to satirize controversies. “Never Forget #Harambe,” read posts accompanying Harambe’s photo superimposed on sculptures, above cityscapes, among famous dead people such as Muhammad Ali or John F. Kennedy. Some Twitter users routinely add the hashtag #RIPHarambe even to posts that have nothing to do with him.
He has surfaced in rewritten song lyrics, comedians’ acts, at sports events and in rap songs.
On Change.org, a recent search turned up 253 references to Harambe. They include the early Justice for Harambe petition and the recent petition to rename the Cincinnati Bengals the Harambes, which has received more than 21,000 signatures. Other petitions want a Harambe emoji, a Harambe character in Pokemon Go, to clone Harambe, even to canonize him.
WCPO-TV web editor James Leggate recently declared that enough was enough, by starting an online petition to end the Harambe online petitions.
“At first, the petitioners had good intentions,” he wrote. “But then the goofuses of the Internet hopped on the Harambe train for their jollies, and it has gotten out of control.”
Animal rights activist Anthony Seta, who organized a Cincinnati vigil in tribute to Harambe soon after his death, thinks much of the attention in terms of memorials has been a positive.
“For the most part, I’m very happy with it. It shows people are remembering what a wonderful being he was,” he said. “The ones that are mocking and making light of the death of this being, I find incredibly offensive.”
Ashley Byrne, an associate director at PETA, said trolls poking fun at animal-rights activists seem to be in a “distinct minority” when it comes to Harambe.
“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.”