Dozens of Calgarians, mostly students, came together at a candlelight vigil with bouquets of bananas to remember the life of Harambe — the gorilla that was shot to death by zookeepers in Cincinnati in May 2016.

The gorilla was killed after a three-year-old child fell into the animal’s enclosure. A video of the gorilla dragging the child through water would soon go viral.

 The Oct. 1 vigil was held in front of MacEwan Student Centre. Quinn, an attendee who chose to only give his first name, came with friends, and said, “I am here because I heard a call on that fateful day [when Harambe was slain] and I knew that I needed to pay my respects.

“[Harambe was] such a good friend, and I heard that you could donate food to the food bank, and that’s such a great cause in the name of Harambe.”

One speaker, who gave her name as Areeba, told the crowd, regardless of race, gender identity or anything else that separates us, “we are all here … for Harambe.”

On the “Harambe on UCalgary” Facebook group, an unnamed administrator invites members to spread their generosity by making donations to the U of C Student Union’s food bank because “Harambe would have done the same.”

Some passersby questioned the 7 p.m. gathering, wondering why something that happened months ago could gain so much attention in a city that’s more than 3000 kilometres away from Cincinnati. One man shouted, “He was just a gorilla,” before running away from the vigil.

For weeks following the May shooting, the Cincinnati Zoo was the target of numerous online complaints, while many others defended the actions of the zoo and blamed the parents of the toddler for Harambe’s death.

Images of the gorilla resurfaced as an internet meme in the summer, and continue to show up in people’s feeds four months later.

The vigil in Calgary isn’t the first Harambe gathering in Canada. Ryerson University in Ontario hosted a recent Harambe event on Sept. 22.

The editor responsible for this article is Justina Deardoff and can be reached at

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