By now, you’ve probably heard of Harambe, the western silverback gorilla who had to be put down this week after a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. While eyewitness reports differ as to whether the child was actually in danger from the 400-pound gorilla, most people agree that the child’s safety was paramount. Regardless, the loss of Harambe is a loss to animal lovers across the world.
Harambe had been raised at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, until he was moved to Cincinnati at the age of 16. Jerry Stones, a zookeeper at the Gladys Porter Zoo, says that Harambe “was very intelligent. Very, very intelligent. His mind was going constantly. He was just such a sharp character.” Harambe had been relocated to the Cincinnati Zoo in the hopes of him developing a bond with the zoo’s two female gorillas, Chewie and Mara. With fewer than 175,000 lowland gorillas left in the wild, conservation and breeding are integral to this species’ future. The Cincinnati Zoo still has nine lowland silverbacks and many hope that the conservation effort will still be successful.
Photographer Robert Streithorst took to Facebook this week to post a touching tribute to the gentle giant. A regular at the Cincinnati Zoo, Streithorst took pictures of many of the animals there, but says that Harambe was his favorite. When you see the photos, you’ll understand why Streithorst felt that way about the primate. The pictures truly paint Harambe as an intelligent being who will be missed by many.
Harambe’s big brown eyes give a hint of the intelligence that the gorilla was known for.
Here, Harambe seems to be pondering one of life’s great mysteries.
Always playful, Harambe enjoyed a game of peek-a-boo from time to time.
Everyone likes cooling off in some brisk water, and Harambe was no exception.
Harambe knows how to work the camera better than most human models.
When you’re carrying 400 pounds around all day, I bet you need to take a break every once in a while.
Coy or just doing his best Dr. Evil impersonation?
Harambe seems to be struggling with a real brainteaser in this one.
Even gorillas get headaches from overthinking every once in a while.
Sometimes Harambe looked like a fierce predator of the African lowlands …
... and sometimes he looked like a regular teenager, just enjoying himself (or, in this case, the taste of a fresh carrot).
Harambe, you were truly a majestic creature. We’ll miss you.
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H/T: Robert Streithorst