Remembering Harambe One Year After His Death

by : Francesca Donovan on : 28 May 2017 10:26
undefinedCincinnati Zoo

It’s been a year to the day since Harambe the Gorilla was shot dead, one day after his 17th birthday, by keepers at Cincinatti Zoo after a child fell into his enclosure. 


In the month that Leicester City stunned the sports world by winning the Premier League for the first time in their history and Sadiq Kahn beat Tory Zac Goldsmith to become London’s first Mayor of an ethnic minority, a tragedy occurred.

Harambe, the 400-pound endangered gorilla was killed on May 28 2016 in order to protect a toddler who had fallen into his enclosure at Cincinatti Zoo, and the Internet reacted like we had never seen before.


There were memes. There was a ‘sex tape’. Nicki Minaj referenced the incident on a burn track. There was a cameo in Street Fighter. A water slide in Australia was named for the late, great beast.


Katie Hopkins and ‘Pharma Douche’ Martin Schkreli weighed in without anyone at all asking for their opinions. Someone designed a Harambe Pokemon – and 30,000 people signed a petition to back it.

J.K.Rowling had her say, displaying her usual charming candour. There was even an on-the-nose sexy Harambe Halloween costume.


Harambe was shot and his death essentially opened up a Pandora’s Box of the human condition: The good, the bad, the ugly and the online.

While the Internet’s reaction evoked by Harambe’s death – one day after his seventeenth birthday – all seems pretty old hat to us in 2017, it certainly paved the way for subsequent viral sensations.

Since, we’ve enabled a 14-year-old child make millions from the phrase ‘Cash Me Ousside’, we’ve seen two global political leaders reduced to pure, unadulterated friendship, and we bore witness to the sexiest salt seasoning of steak known to man.


While the subject of Harambe’s death was certainly a controversial one, with many condemning the zoo’s actions, there’s one thing that is for certain.


The world found and lost Harambe on the same day, and he helped us find our voices of online outrage and humour.

Harambe will be forever in our memes.

Francesca Donovan

A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you've never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.