The Philadelphia Zoo announced that it would hold a "voting opportunity" to decide the name of its new baby gorilla, which was born last Friday. The internet being what it is, the zoo was inundated with social media requests to name the new babe Harambe, after the gorilla killed by police at the Cincinnati zoo this year.
The Philadelphia zoo is not going to name the new gorilla Harambe.
The zoo doesn't even know the gender of the gorilla yet, says Amy Shearer, chief marketing officer.
Harambe was dubbed "the meme of the summer" and popularized in places like Reddit where it has become much more than a memorial to the slain animal. It's been decried for racist undertones, although Vox points out that the black internet community helped popularize the meme, while others have dismissed it as generic internet nonsense.
Perhaps the Philadelphia Zoo was smart enough to learn its lesson from countless other internet polls that have been skewed by write-in votes. Instead of allowing everyone to have a voice, the zoo will instead offer up a list of staff-generated names and let the general public vote on those pre-approved choices. The zoo said as much on Twitter on Thursday.
Shearer reiterated the tweet. Right now the zoo is celebrating this "miracle birth," but once it finds out the sex of the new gorilla, it will allow the community to vote.
"I think those people are very engaged," Shearer said of the Harambe voters. "I think it's an indication of people's enthusiasm." She also noted that the zoo had received well-wishes about the new birth beyond those looking to name the gorilla Harambe.