On Tuesday, the zoo decided to delete its Twitter and Facebook accounts, after not being able to withstand the incessant outpour of negativity and inappropriate comments from the public.
The fine line between freedom of speech and respecting others is frequently crossed on social media, as the Harambe meme phenomena and its accompanying harassment demonstrated. Unfortunately, they are just another case in point of the uglier side to social media.
Below are a few examples from Twitter of how the public reacted to the zoo's trolling dilemma. It's no wonder the organization decided to shut down its accounts.
I see Cincinnati Zoo has gone and tweeted again pic.twitter.com/Buv1EXmSPT— Alan White (@aljwhite) August 21, 2016
Since the Cincinnati Zoo staff shot and killed Harambe in May after the gorilla grabbed a young boy who entered his cage, activists, campaigners, and satirists have been harassing the zoo. In order to save the 3-year-old boy, staff had to fatally shoot Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla.
The director of the zoo, Thane Maynard, complained to the media that the staff is struggling to cope with Harambe’s unplanned death because of all the internet trolling and hate messages.
Over the weekend, the zoo’s Twitter account was hacked, in a perpetual continuation of the harassment that the zoo has faced in the aftermath of Harambe’s death.
Internet memes of Harambe have since become popular on social media in the wake of his death. Most of them are incredibly insensitive with regards towards the value of life, but some are in better taste than others.
popular baby names in 2017:— Chris Melberger (@chrismelberger) August 17, 2016
When you're thinking about Harambe's death pic.twitter.com/rUjRVxUeDa— Beaker Probs (@BeakerProbs) August 22, 2016
When ur having a good time and then u remember harambe pic.twitter.com/3AdkH2dRHa— dog mom (@kennabbby) August 22, 2016
Maynard wrote in an email to Associated Press on Monday, “We are not amused by the memes, petitions, and signs… Our zoo family is still healing. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us.”
While some people may argue that the zoo overreacted to "harmless" jokes, on the other hand, some of the internet’s responses to Harambe’s death have invoked insidious racist attacks against celebrities such as actress Leslie Jones and Australian ex-soccer player Adam Goodes.
Photo credit: Reuters