Stop making Harambe memes, Cincinnati Zoo says

In this May 30, 2016 file photo, Alesia Buttrey, of Cincinnati, holds a sign with a picture of the gorilla Harambe during a vigil in his honor outside the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, in Cincinnati.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Harambe, the 17-year-old gorilla that was killed in May at the Cincinnati Zoo, remains the focus of many memes, jokes and sarcastic memorials, and the zoo wants the mockery to stop.

"We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe," Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo's director, told the Associated Press. "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."

Harambe was shot and killed on May 28 when a 3-year-old boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure at the Ohio zoo. Zoo officials said they feared that the animal would kill the child.

Since his death, Harambe has continued to make headlines. Two such instances include a poll showing thousands of people said they would prefer Harambe over political figures vying for the presidency and when people petitioned for a Pokemon character to be created in the gorilla's image.

"At first, the petitioners had good intentions," said James Leggate, a web editor for WCPO-TV. Leggate recently started a petition asking that petitions about Harambe stop. "But then the goofuses of the internet hopped on the Harambe train for their jollies, and it has gotten out of control."

"'Harambe!' as an exclamation is popular among teens," Jean Burgess, an expert in digital culture and memes at the Queensland University of Technology, in Brisbane, Australia, told The Washington Post. "Teens love edgy, slightly unacceptable humor."

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