Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo get mentions in Dave Chappelle's 'SNL' monologue

Joke fudges one important fact
Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo get mentions in Dave Chappelle's 'SNL' monologue
Posted at 10:00 AM, Nov 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-13 10:00:29-05

CINCINNATI -- Whoever runs the Cincinnati Zoo's Twitter account is probably hoping this one just slips under the radar.

In his "Saturday Night Live" monologue this weekend, comedian Dave Chappelle joked about his local zoo, which happens to be here in Cincinnati.

And the joke... Well, you can guess it.

Chappelle, also an actor, producer and screenwriter, is regarded as one of the most brilliant stand-up comics of his generation. "Chappelle's Show," which ran on Comedy Central in the mid-2000s, solidified his reputation and continues to run in syndication, but Chappelle himself has kept a comparatively low-profile since leaving the network -- and a $50 million contract -- over personal concerns and ethical differences with the entertainment industry.

He started off Saturday night's monologue by talking about Donald Trump's election to presidency. "And I don’t even think it’s the most important thing we’re dealing with," he said. "Don't forget. Don't forget all the things that are going on. Shootings."

That eventually brought him back to Cincinnati, and Harambe, the silverback gorilla killed last spring after a 3-year-old boy fell into his enclosure. Chappelle, originally from Washington D.C., lives up the road in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

"You can't even go to the (expletive) zoo without seeing a shooting nowadays,"  he said. "They shot a gorilla at my local zoo. And the Cincinnati police said, 'Shooting that gorilla was the toughest decision this department ever had to make.' I said, 'Well, you about to see a lot of n-----s in gorilla costumes in Cincinnati."

The joke fudged a fact about the shooting: Cincinnati police didn't shoot Harambe; a trained zoo employee did. Personnel from the zoo's dangerous animal response team decided to put down the gorilla rather than tranquilize him because the boy was in danger and the tranquilizer would not have taken effect immediately, Zoo Director Thane Maynard said. He called it "a life-threatening situation" for the child.

Two other gorillas in the exhibit were called back inside.

Afterward, people outraged by the shooting called for criminal charges against the boy's mother. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he saw no reason to prosecute her.

"If you don't believe a 3-year-old can scamper away that quickly, you've never had children," Deters said.

An Internet backlash in the weeks after Harambe's death led the Cincinnati Zoo to deactivate its Twitter account while the storm blew over. The zoo started tweeting again just a few weeks ago.

Watch the whole monologue below (Harambe reference is at about 3:30; clip contains graphic language):