The Philadelphia Zoo welcomed a new baby gorilla to its sweet zoo family on Friday — its first in 20 years, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Like all nervous, expectant caregivers, the zookeepers baby-proofed the gorilla exhibit by removing nets, firehoses, and logs. Zoo leadership has so far displayed appropriate care for this miracle of life.
The baby gorilla will be named in a public contest. When I first heard this my instinct was to shoot a quick warning over to the Philly zoo team, regarding that idea. Nothing should be named by popular vote — not a boat, not a whale, not a Mountain Dew flavor — but more than anything, a gorilla should not be named by popular vote in 2016.
The gender of the baby is unknown because its mother, Honi, has been holding it tightly to its body ever since its birth. It’s almost like she is protecting it from something. Perhaps the legacy of a meme it has never met.
Update: The Philadelphia Zoo's Director of Communications Dana Lombardo has clarified that the team caring for the baby gorilla will come up with a list of suitable name options, from which the public can choose. "This is a significant birth, so we want the public to be involved," she told The Verge, "but we're not off our rockers."
This baby doesn’t understand what kind of world it has been born into, and that’s not this baby’s fault. Here is an open letter I wrote to the Philadelphia Zoo before finding out that everything would be fine:
Dear Zoo bosses,
Please, let this wee precious thing have its own life. Don’t turn him or her into the Dr. Frederick Frankenstein of gorillas. Don’t let him or her be Harambe, Harambe Jr., Harambe 2.0, New Harambe, Harambette, Harambetter, or Harambe 2: Electric Boogaloo. He or she deserves their own legacy, and it is up to you, dear zoo bosses, to provide.
P.S. Thank you for protecting this lil' angel from the horrible internet.
Updated August 31st, 4:45 PM EST: Updated to include a statement from the Philadelphia Zoo.