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There's A Petition To Rename Humboldt Park As Harambe Park

By Stephen Gossett in News on Aug 8, 2016 8:25PM

Bronze statue of gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo / Getty Images / Photo: John Sommers II

It's been over two months since zoo workers fatally shot Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, after a 3-year-old climbed into the primate’s enclosure. And while the moral outrage subsided, the bizarre Harambe memes continue unabated—even right here in Chicago.

In death, the late, great silverback became exaggeratedly, ridiculously great—at least in the hands of 2016 Internet culture. As the Washington Post points out, there were popular-song rewrites (think "I'm goin' Harambe” in a Temple of the Dog voice), a deliberately stupid rallying cry (“dicks out for Harambe”) and think pieces about the memes.

Here in Chicago there's a petition posted on Saturday by Peter Bono (a.k.a. Vince Mici, 21) to change the name of Humboldt Park to Harambe Park. It is already past the halfway point to its goal of 500 supporters. Bono insists it's more than just a non-sequitur goof and claims there's a moral component to the meme.

"The whole Harambe sensation not only plays an important role in 2016 internet culture but it also works as social commentary on modern society as a whole," he told Chicagoist via direct message.

"You see the popular internet joke that Harambe should be recognized as a hero—although extremely over-exaggerated—[showed] his death was extremely important. It shed light on the way humans cruelly imprison these animals… This all could have been avoided if the guardian of the child payed more attention so as he would not have crawled into the gorilla exhibit," he added.

At the same time, Bono with the other hand also plays up the meme’s nature as a mirror to meaninglessness. How else to explain this retweet, in which a commenter responds to an (over?) earnest claim of insensitivity by proclaiming “Harambe has a sick jump shot?” It’s an anti-PC piss take in the eyes of the initial Twitter poster, but it could equally mean nothing at all in the world of Haramabe.

Still Mici finds a point in it all. (We think?) “Although we poke fun through memes and renaming parks and other various official landmarks, it gets you thinking” he said. “Maybe Harambe is the hero we need to highlight the importance of leaving wild animals (out) of captivity.”

So, the moral concern merely changed shape and took the Internet’s preferred form of lol-able “random!”-ness? It seems like a stretch—and even posing the question almost feels like a punchline we’ve been tricked in to delivering—but stranger things have happened. (Clearly.) Whatever the case may be, one of our city's fair parks is just the latest focus in the surprisingly long-lasting, oddball world of Harambe.