At the Philadelphia Zoo, when a 21-year-old western lowland gorilla named Honi gave birth on Friday, it become very clear that people aren't going to stop talking about Harambe. On Wednesday, the newborn gorilla — which according to the Philadelphia Inquirer was the first baby gorilla born at the zoo after approximately 20 years — made its public debut. In light of this, the zoo launched a naming contest for the baby, in order to engage more visitors and social media users. Almost immediately, thousands of people suggested the baby gorilla be named Harambe, after the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo earlier this year after a child slipped into its enclosure. The Philadelphia Zoo should have seen this request coming.
Harambe's death initially triggered petitions and backlash, but in recent weeks, it has also resulted in a surge of memes and jokes. The Cincinnati Zoo actually deleted its Twitter account after being on the receiving end of these memes all summer, asserting that the Internet should not make light of the endangered gorilla's death. Nonetheless, Harambe's fame has outlived many other Internet memes — there are even petitions to make Harambe a Pokémon — and the outcome of the Philadelphia Zoo's decision to launch a naming contest for a gorilla is fairly unsurprising.
The naming contest hasn't actually started yet. It will be launched at some point next month, but numerous Twitter users have submitted "early entries" by urging the zoo to name the baby gorilla Harambe.
Unfortunately for all the Harambe fans out there, this Twitter user is probably right:
Despite the Internet's wishes that the newborn gorilla be named Harambe, it still might not happen. After all the initial excitement about the contest, the Philadelphia Zoo clarified on Twitter that the public will have to choose from a curated list of names.
Dana Lombardo, director of communications at the Philadelphia Zoo, told Vocativ that the team who cared for Honi — the baby gorilla's mother — will create a list of possible names after they are able to determine the sex of the newborn.
They haven't been able to do this yet, because Honi has kept the baby too close for anyone to tell. Lombardo didn't rule out the possibility of naming the gorilla after Harambe, Vocativ reported, but for the moment, it seems unlikely. So for now, just admire the baby gorilla, and hope that it lives a long and happy life.