Punch Drunk: After Three Months of Mourning, Harambe Haunts Us All 


Never before has a dead gorilla captivated the minds and stolen the hearts of a nation quite like the dead gorilla known as Harambe.

The western lowland gorilla that launched a thousand memes, Harambe has inspired millions of people who never thought about caged primates to suddenly care. I haven’t been this upset about an animal being killed since Cecil the Lion was struck down in his prime last year.

Rest in peace, Cecil.

I’m sorry, can you give me a minute? I, umm, have something in my eye.

So why are we talking about this now? This happened months ago, right? Indulge me.

If you don’t know the story, Harambe was a 17-year-old, 440-pound gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. On May 28, a 3-year-old child managed to get into Harambe’s enclosure. Harambe grabbed the child, at one point dragging it through a watery moat area. While it was never quite clear if Harambe meant to harm the child, the zoo decided that it couldn’t take that risk, and shot Harambe dead. The child was saved.

The shooting was controversial for reasons. Many people blamed the parents for not watching their child, while others said Harambe wouldn’t have harmed the child and shouldn’t have been shot — or at the very least, a tranquilizer gun should have been used. It also raised the question of whether gorillas should be held in captivity at all.

Most gorilla experts — the Cincinnati Zoo included — have defended the actions by saying that it really had no choice. And seriously, does anyone think that a 3-year-old human’s life is less important than a 17-year-old gorilla’s? There should be no dispute there.

Celebrity zookeeper and all-around wildlife badass Jack Hanna defended the move too, saying, “They made the correct decision.”

He noted that a tranquilizer gun would have taken at least 5 to 10 minutes to take effect, time they simply couldn’t afford. “A human being is alive today because of the decision the Cincinnati Zoo made,” he said.

Agreed. It’s a beautiful, majestic creature. But that big ape had to die.

It is what’s been happening since Harambe’s killing that is, frankly, hilarious: How Harambe as meme and celebrity has endured. Let’s take a look.

Shortly after his death, #JusticeForHarambe and #RIPHarambe immediately shot to the top of the Twitter and Facebook trends. And not just briefly either. Think millions and millions of posts.

On July 10, Ohio teenager Max Brinton pranked Google into changing the street name on which his high school is located, Shankland Road, to Harambe Drive. Unsurprisingly, this went viral.

Speaking of going viral, the phrase “d*cks out for Harambe” has become a ridiculous rallying cry on social media. I’m not even going to try to explain this one.

People also are making a sport of changing song lyrics to include Harambe: Harambe matata, what a wonderful ape. Harambe matata, they shot you in your cage.

My favorite is to see Harambe polling at 5 percent in a real presidential survey. Public Policy Polling released a poll July 30 that shows Clinton leading Trump 48 to 43 percent, with Harambe running a distant third at 5 percent. I’m not going to lie, President Harambe may be just what America needs. Real dead-gorilla leadership, real dead-gorilla results.

And now, this past week, a petition on Change.org is attempting to get the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals to change their name to the — you guessed it — Cincinnati Harambes. So far, more than 15,000 people have signed it.

The petition reads: “The Cleveland Browns named their team after a former Coach who made a great impact on their city so why can’t the Bengals do it as well in honor of a hero who made an impact on their city too! #D*cksoutforHarambe.”

I’m glad they included that hashtag.

My question is, will this be enough to honor his memory?

Why only name an NFL team after him? We can do better than that. I’m already planning to name my firstborn Harambe. If it’s a female — Harambina. My dog? Renamed him Harambe. Bought a pet monkey just to name it Harambe. Started calling my Mom, HaMombe.

I can’t get enough of this dead gorilla.

Sure, schools are important, but I’d like to know where each Richmond mayoral candidate stands on a Harambe statue for Monument Avenue.

Harambe is dead.

Long live Harambe. S

Jack Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @jackgoesforth.




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