The director of the Cincinnati Zoo, home of the dead gorilla Harambe, has made a plea to internet funnypeople to give it a rest already:
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” Thane Maynard said by email. “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.”
I get it. It was a traumatic time for zoo staff, and very bad PR for a place that relies heavily on donations to survive. I also get that Harambe jokes, despite the omnipresent threat of being run into the ground by unfunny people, are inherently funny.
But there’s a difference between sharing your fantastic Harambe meme with the world, and 100 of you teaming it up to yell at some poor communications staffer.
Go to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Twitter account. Click on any tweet, about anything. Scroll through the replies. It’s a war zone.
For every tweet, there are scores—hundreds—of replies about Harambe, some patently jokey, some mock offended. There appears to have emerged an informal competition to garner the most likes and retweets among the replies. Creativity is big; being quick on the draw is bigger. For every tweet about half-price admission at the zooon visitor appreciation day, there will be dozens of replies about how Harambe liked half-price admission, or how Harambe liked visitors, or how Harambe liked appreciation. You will find a ton of repetition, and precious little humor (there are a number of Buzzfeed writers taking part, after all).
Take it from someone whose Twitter feed has been shitted up for about a year now: it’s no fun to look at all this every day! I feel genuinely bad for whoever is running the Cincinnati Zoo’s Twitter account, when all they want to do is tell the nice people to come see the animals. But I understand that this plea for mercy will fall on deaf ears—just like Harambe’s pleas for mercy did.