Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, was shot and killed Saturday when a young boy fell into his enclosure. The boy and his family were visiting the zoo when he told his mother he was going to get into the moat. She told her son, "No you're not," but was then distracted by the other kids with her. In the blink of an eye, he was down near the water with the gorilla. The gorilla had just turned 17, and many around the world are mourning the loss of Harambe by sharing pictures and memes.
Harambe celebrated his birthday on Friday. He was born at a zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and had just arrived in Cincinnati in 2014. A silverback western lowland gorilla, he weighed more than 450 pounds. Zookeepers found him to be mentally sharp. "He demonstrates intelligence and curiosity, using sticks and things to reach for items outside his grasp," Ron Evans, the primates curator at the zoo, said in a statement in 2015.
There are just 175,000 of these critically endangered gorillas in the wild, and only 765 in zoos — something which makes the loss of Harambe all the more difficult. "It'll be a loss to the gene pool of lowland gorillas," Thane Maynard, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo, said Saturday. "The loss of a breeding male is a big deal." For those who knew the gorilla from visits, or have connected through photos in days since his death, Maynard's other comment about him will mean even more: "Harambe was a good guy."
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