Today is the one year anniversary of Harambe’s death, so here's a look back at the history of Harambe memes
If somehow you haven’t been on the internet for the last 365 days, Haramabe was a 17-year-old western gorilla that lived in Cincinnati Zoo.
On May 28th 2016, a three-year-old boy fell ginto the gorilla enclosure, and fearing for the infant’s safety, a zoo employee shot and killed Harambe when he picked the child.
The incident was controversial – the child survived unharmed, but a seemingly innocent animal was killed. It raised questions about whether we should even be keeping animals like Harambe in captivity. It was a complicated and nuanced situation.
Of course, the internet didn’t see it like that. After an initial burst of outrage from genuinely angry environmentalists, Harambe became one massive in- joke, the ultimate meme. Whereas most memes are increasingly quickly co-opted by brands and business, the Harambe meme was still about the death of an animal. It was too morbid for anyone to want to monetise, so the meme lived on, getting weirder and weirder.
"harambe? i haven't heard that name in years" pic.twitter.com/lCqA7cbV5n
— Hayes Brown (@HayesBrown) August 22, 2016
It began to spill out into the real world.
The Cincinnati Zoo had to shut down its social media, because it was getting to clogged up with abuse and memelords.
A prank led to Google Maps briefly renaming a street after Harambe.
WE SENT COMPLAINTS TO GOOGLE MAPS SAYING SHANKLAND ROAD WAS ACTUALLY HARAMBE DRIVE AND THEY CHANGED IT IM SCREAMING pic.twitter.com/b7SvgDzx2K
— Chris Gallagher (@gallagherc_) July 23, 2016
Someone bid an extortionate amount of money for a Cheeto shaped like Harambe on eBay (but probably didn't actually pay for it).
eBay seller tells me he has yet to receive money from winning bidder who agreed to pay $99,900 for this Harambe shaped Cheeto pic.twitter.com/nzs895TDk9
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 7, 2017
People even reportedly voted for Harambe as a write-in candidate in the 2016 US election.
Over 11,000 people voted for Harambe. Harambe is a dead gorilla.
Those 11,000 votes would have saved our country. #ElectionNight
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) November 9, 2016
But the strangest mutation was probably 'Dicks Out For Harambe'.
If you missed it, it was exactly what it sounds like: a campaign for you to get you penis out in memory of the late ape. It reached it's apex when Vine was uploaded featuring none other than the actor Danny Trejo saying the phrase.
And the Harambe meme is still going strong. It would seem in death, he has found his own kind of immortality. Sleep well, fair prince.