Harambe’s Law: US Presidential candidate demands zoos release all primates in dead gorilla's memory

Green Party politician seizes on anniversary of animal's shooting

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 29 August 2016 13:53
Visitors pay tribute to the gorilla who officials were forced to kill after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure
Visitors pay tribute to the gorilla who officials were forced to kill after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure

You can call it the Harambe constituency.

On Sunday, Jill Stein, the presidential candidate of the Green Party, became the first of the White House nominees to actively court the supporters of the gorilla when she released a statement to mark the third month anniversary of his shooting by zoo officials.

“The killing of Harambe three months ago today reminds us to be a voice for the voiceless,” Ms Stein tweeted, with a link to a statement she originally issued in early June.

Ms Stein’s intervention came just two weeks after a poll in Texas suggested her support in the state was on par with that of the dead gorilla - around two per cent. A RealClearPolitics polling average has Ms Stein’s national support at 3.3 per cent.

“The killing of Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo highlights the need to adopt stronger legal protections for the rights of animals,” said the statement.

“Other countries, especially in Europe, have begun to provide legal rights and protected status to primates as living beings. Non-human primates should have the legal right to live freely or, when necessary, in sanctuaries only for medical rehabilitation or ecological assistance for endangered species.”

Cincinnati Zoo's gorilla Harambe plays as a baby

Zoo officials killed Harambe in May after a four-year-old boy fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

The zoo said they were concerned that the boy could have been harmed or even killed if they had tried to shoot the 17-year-old animal with a tranquiliser dart as it would not have acted fast enough.

The family of the child was forced to defend itself against a storm of criticism on social media that the child’s mother should have done more to prevent the boy from entering the enclosure. The zoo has defended its decision to shoot and kill the gorilla, saying it was the only way to ensure the child’s safety.

“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids,” the mother, Michelle Gregg, wrote on Facebook.

“Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”

Since then, the narrative surrounding the gorilla’s death has taken on a life of its own, with vigils, cartoons and internet memes being created.

Such was the level of interest, that the zoo deleted its Facebook and Twitter account and asked people to stop creating memes.

“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe,” director Thane Maynard said. “Our zoo family is still healing and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us.”

After the death of the animal, his sperm was removed for possible breeding purposes.

Ms Stein and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson would greatly love to participate in the presidential debate. They would need to be at a 15 per cent threshold to join Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on the debate stage.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced that the five polls it would use to determine that threshold are ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News and NBC-Wall Street Journal.

Mr Johnson said he was at 10 per cent in those five polls but has seen an increase of about 4 percentage points over the past six weeks

Mr Johnson said on Sunday that it was game over for his hopes of winning the election if he did not make it to the debate stage.

“Winning the election, yes, I would say game over,” Mr Johnson said on Fox News.

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