Is nothing sacred? As the grieving staff at the Cincinnati Zoo has discovered in the months since their beloved gorilla Harambe was shot and killed, the answer, in the golden age of internet irreverence, is a cynical nope!
This weekend, trolls took the seemingly immortal meme too far and hacked the Twitter account of the zoo’s director, Thane Maynard, prompting him to issue a public plea to put an end to it once and for all.
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” Maynard told the Associated Press today. “Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us.”
In a single statement, Maynard made all of us feel like total shit. Did we deserve it? Absolutely. No matter how commonplace it’s become to use satire as a way to deal with controversy, it doesn’t change the fact that, at the end of the day, we’ve been cracking ourselves up at the expense of a dead animal.
The zoo’s staff have been patient — commendably so. In the four months since the Ohio gorilla was shot after a toddler fell into his enclosure, zoo staff members have mourned in silence as we pulled out our virtual dicks for Harambe and publicly wondered whether the great ape’s actions landed him in hell. They have patiently withstood facetious petitions to add the gorilla’s face to Mount Rushmore, turn him into a Pokémon, and elect him as President while the rest of us cackled endlessly at our own deranged joke — one that, ironically, grew out of an earnest petition to bring justice to Harambe.
This weekend, we went too far. Trolls posting to Maynard’s account sent messages containing the hashtag #DicksOutForHarambe and changed his profile picture, forcing the zoo director to call out the entirety of the internet on behalf of his grieving staff.
The joke, he says, stops here. “We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us,” Maynard said.
Photos via Getty Images / John Sommers II