Harambe McHarambeface

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Strange happenings in the Jinhua zoo, Zhejiang, China:

"Has a Chinese zoo called a gorilla Harambe McHarambeface? Claim that poll decided animal’s name sweeps the web" (Daily Mail, 9/13/16)

  • Confusion over the naming of a gorilla at a zoo after a 'huge public vote'
  • Newborn 'christened' at Jinhua zoo in China's central Zhejiang province
  • Total of 73,345 votes were cast for Harambe McHarambeface 
  • Name is reference to gorilla killed in US after boy fell into its enclosure

Has a gorilla been named Harambe McHarambeface at a Chinese zoo after asking the public what the newborn should be called?

The fate of the new arrival at Jinhua zoo in China's central Zhejiang province was reportedly left in the public's hands, who rushed to the polls to cast their vote.

It was reported a total of 73,345 people voted for Harambe McHarambeface – mimicking the infamous Boaty McBoatface – and with 93% of the vote the gorilla was said to have been given the new name.

The moniker is a reference to the 17-year-old gorilla shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo after a four-year-old boy fell into its enclosure.

But the site – Boston Leader – who broke the story is being questioned by internet users as to the validity of the story.

Initially, Heijin was the front-runner with several hundred votes, but once the ballot was shared on social media, new options were added and Harambe McHarambeface stormed into the lead, according the Boston Leader .

“We do hope it will attract more foreign visitors to Jinhua in future.” The official mentioned that the zoo accepts “Harambe McHarambeface” will be used as the gorilla’s English name, but ‘Heijin’ will be used as his Chinese name. “It is nearly impossible to render Harambe McHarambeface in Chinese language,” said the official, “so we hope those who voted will accept that we have decided to give him a different Chinese name.”

Matt Treyvaud wrote in to ask:

I'm sure I'm not the only Language Log reader who would enjoy a post about what people are saying about the name "Harambe McHarambeface" on the Chinese internet–not least how they actually plan to write it in Chinese characters!

So far as I have been able to ascertain, there has been dead silence about this on the Chinese internet.

Not surprising, since the whole Harambe McHarambeface story is a hoax, as Matt Novak tells us in Gizmodo (9/13/16), "No, a Chinese Zoo Did Not Name a Baby Gorilla Harambe McHarambeface":

Harambe McHarambeface is obviously a nod to the meme of the disaster that is crowdsourcing a name for things online. Remember Boaty McBoatface? This one just never happened in the first place.

"Story about zoo naming gorilla 'Harambe McHarambeface' appears to be a hoax" (USA Today, 9/13/16):

And while the Harambe-nod delighted people on social media, The Boston Leader doesn't appear to be a legitimate website. The website doesn't have any content other than the Harambe McHarambeface story. Clicking away from the story brings up a "service temporarily unavailable page."

According to Whols, the domain name was created four days ago, Buzzfeed reports.

There is a Jinhua Zoo (Jīnhuá dòngwùyuán 金华动物园), but, so far as I can tell, they do not have any gorillas among their animals.

As for how to say Harambe in Chinese, it is Hālāmǔbǐ 哈拉姆比.

[Thanks to Yixue Yang]


  1. Keith said,

    September 14, 2016 @ 2:28 am

    Maybe "Hālāmǔbǐ MàikèHālāmǔbǐmiànduì 哈拉姆比 麦克哈拉姆比面对"?

  2. Matt said,

    September 14, 2016 @ 3:23 am

    Welp. This is awkward.

  3. Victor Mair said,

    September 14, 2016 @ 10:50 am

    Just heard directly from friends in Jinhua. Nobody is talking about a new gorilla in the zoo there. There is no new gorilla in the Jinhua zoo.

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