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Harambe was the meme we couldn't escape in 2016

Harambe was the meme we couldn't escape in 2016

Before Harambe died, he was just a gorilla. Now, he's meme history.

How did a zoo animal become the centerpiece of ironic Internet culture in 2016? The answer involves Black Lives Matter, celebrity deaths, a popular video game, emojis, and the presidential election.

It started on May 28, when a child fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. Zoo officials made the difficult decision to shoot and kill the 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla to protect the child.

In the following days, it was as though everyone on the Internet had suddenly become an expert on zoo safety, parenting, and gorilla body language. The thinkpiece...