Harambe may have been reborn. A newborn gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo may be named after the late Ohio zoo animal.
After zookeepers in Philly announced Thursday that they would take a public poll to name the little guy or gal, the internet quickly responded, flooding the zoo’s social media channels with their request: Harambe Jr. or Harambe II.
But it isn’t certain if the zoo is considering the name at all. The zoo’s Twitter account later thanked the public for its support of the little gorilla but said that staff would choose the name for the baby and then present the options so people can cast ballots.
The staff still isn’t certain of the sex of the new gorilla because its mother has been holding him or her very close since its birth. Once they know the sex, the zoo has indicated, then decisions will be made with regard to the name.
“We are very excited to welcome Honi's new baby ,” Andy Baker, the zoo’s chief operating officer, said. “This birth is an opportunity to engage our visitors in caring about the future of gorillas in the wild."
Some have interpreted that answer, and the other variations given to the press following the online campaign, as a "no."
It’s hard to say whether naming the baby gorilla after Harambe would be a sincere act aimed at honoring the animal or just a big joke perpetuated by cynical internet trolls.
Harambe’s death in May at an Ohio zoo created a huge uproar, with many people questioning whether the western lowland gorilla really needed to be killed after he got his hands on a small child — a decision zookeepers still stand by. But, after a period of public outrage, the gorilla’s name and death ultimately became a joke online. There are a wide range of memes that have been used to criticize and joke about all sorts of issues, anchored in an online campaign known as “Justice for Harambe.”