Cincinnati Zoo 'not amused' by Harambe online jokes

FILE - This June 20, 2015 file photo provided by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden shows Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, who was fatally shot Saturday, May 28, 2016, to protect a 3-year-old boy who had entered its exhibit. In some parts of Africa, tourists and researchers routinely trek into the undergrowth to see gorillas in their natural habitat where there are no barriers or enclosures. (Jeff McCurry/Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden via The Cincinatti Enquirer via AP, File)

Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden aren't amused by the onslaught of jokes that have surged recently in the wake of the death of Harambe, the 17 year old great ape who had to be put down when a 3-year-old fell into the gorilla's enclosure.

"We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe," Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo director, said by email to the Associated Press. "Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us ."

Since his death on May 28, Harambe has been the focus of a number of ridiculous online petitions, including renaming the Cincinnati Bengals the Cincinnati Harambes. There was also the online movement to nominate Harambe for President.

In one instance, a teen pranked Google into renaming a street after Harambe.

The at-times mocking hashtag #HarambeLives grew from the very real movement #JusticeForHarambe.

Harambe remembrances began soberly, with a legitimate "Justice for Harambe" petition seeking to hold the boy's mother responsible in his May 28 death. The county prosecutor ruled there was no cause for charges. The zoo reopened its gorilla exhibit with a higher, reinforced barrier and urged support for gorilla conservation efforts.

But the zoo's hopes of moving on have been countered by all the continued reminders.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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