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27 May 2017
Harambe sits in his habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2011. The gorilla lived in the zoo his whole life until he was shot and killed at the age of seventeen. Photo by Jason Miklacic, copyright Flickr

The Harambe Craze

In late May of this year, zookeepers at the Cincinnati Zoo made the decision to shoot and kill a 400-pound gorilla named Harambe to save a three-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla’s enclosure. There were many protests about why Harambe was killed, and many argue that it was not the right thing to do; the decision made by the zookeepers sparked outrage in many animal rights groups. However, five months later, Harambe has become one of the most popular subjects on social media for reasons that many would not have expected.

The Cincinnati Zoo erected a memorial for Harambe inside the zoo to commemorate his life. Eventually, animal activists dropped the subject a couple weeks after the incident.

The Internet, however, wouldn’t let go of Harambe. Over the past several months, Harambe has ascended from being a lowly gorilla in an American zoo to one of the most popular memes on the Internet. According to Oxford Dictionary, an Internet meme is a humorous image, video, or piece of text that is copied and spread rapidly throughout the Internet.

Harambe has become so popular that he has been named the “meme of the summer.” The search interest for Harambe on Google has been steadily rising since the incident at the zoo. Online petitions have even been made for him to have his own statue at the White House, to be made into a pokemon, to be the new face of the fifty dollar bill, and to even change the name of Cincinnati to “Harambe City.”

The most surprising part of this meme is its longevity. Many people expected it to end after a couple weeks, but the fact that the meme is still popular has perplexed the world. Because of the versatility of the meme, incorporating Harambe into many different aspects of today’s pop culture is something the Internet has mastered.  

Many people at Andrean have also jumped on the trend of sharing Harambe memes. “Harambe is the best meme ever created,” said sophomore Neil Singh.

The teachers, however, don’t seem to understand why this is popular at all. “I don’t understand why my students care so much about a gorilla,” said English teacher Faith Lasecki. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Harambe craze is still in full swing, including over-the-top memorials and thousands of people signing petitions to put the gorilla on U.S. currency. If it’s not clear enough, the Internet still hasn’t forgotten about Harambe.