About 150 people gathered at Lake Devo Thursday night at a candle-lit vigil for Harambe, the western lowland gorilla who was killed last May when a child fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.
The incident vaulted Harambe into Internet stardom, making the gorilla one of the most popular memes of 2016.
Attendees joined hands and lit candles—donated by Bed, Bath and Beyond—and presented tokens of tribute that included bananas, gorilla masks and dildos.
— David Greenberg (@david_greenberg) September 23, 2016
The event’s organizer, Mustafa Malick was quick to brand the event a joke.
“As you guys know, it’s obviously, clearly made through a meme,” Malick said during his opening speech.
Malick got the idea for the vigil a week ago and decided to plan a Facebook event. Within 24 hours, 1,000 people were listed as interested in attending. Malick said he doesn’t know why Harambe resonates with so many people online.
Justin Licari came all the way from McMaster to attend the vigil. He said he’s trying to attend as many Harambe events as possible.
“I see this as a joke that we can all enjoy but also that we could remember that animal rights are just as important as human rights,” Licari said.
Licari’s brother, Jonathan Licari, is a Ryerson student and called the event a blessing. He said that people overlooked Harambe’s story “just like a lot of the news.”
Despite this oversight, Jonathan expects the vigil to be an annual event and predicts that Harambe’s death will become a statutory holiday.
“Since Harambe’s spirit lasts forever, I think that that can only mean that the hype train is going to last forever as well,” Licari said.
Last week, Queen’s University planned its own vigil for Harambe. There are more vigils expected to take place at Laurier, Guelph, Trent, McGill and McMaster.