CINCINNATI — Friday marked five years since tragedy hit Gorilla World at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. On May 28, 2016, a 3-year-old boy fell into the exhibit, leading to the death of long-time zoo resident Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland silverback gorilla.
The animal's untimely death quickly gained worldwide attention online and across social media platforms.
Various videos posted online show Harambe approach the child, grab him by the ankle and drag him through the moat around the enclosure. Harambe then carried the child out of the moat and continued to drag him on the ground, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Members of the zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team tried to recall Harambe. Their attempts were unsuccessful.
Members of the team said the child's life was in danger, and officials made the decision to use lethal force to ensure the safety of the child. Minutes later, the boy was safe and Harambe was killed.
But Harambe's memory has lived on at a global scale since the ape's death. To quote author George Eliot, "Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them," and the incident left its mark in history.
Following his death, the zoo modified Gorilla World by raising the external barriers of the enclosure by six inches, putting them between 41 and 42 inches tall. Nylon netting is also in place to make sure small children can't fall into the enclosure in the future.
In the time since, the incident has made ripples across the internet and pop culture. Memes emerged overnight depicting Harambe. A vigil was held thousands of miles away in London. Harambe was a playable character in some online video games. Celebrities were talking about him, and rappers were naming him in their lyrics.
A Google search of "Harambe" brings up another search: "Was Harambe a hero?" Some would say, "Yes."
Five years after his death, Harambe is still a topic of discussion online. People still mention him in comments, and his image is still used to bring smiles to millions of people's faces.
Harambe's body may be gone, but his spirit will be with us forever.