A 7-foot tall statue of Harambe, the gorilla killed in 2016 who became a meme icon, was installed across from the Wall Street Charging Bull

In the background and on the right, a bronze colored statue of the gorilla Harambe, foregrounded by the leg of the Charging Bull wall street statue and a pile of bananas
A statue of Harambe was installed on Monday across from the Charging Bull statue at Bowling Green Park, accompanied by piles of bananas. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
  • A statue of Harambe, the gorilla who was shot dead in 2016, was installed in New York on Monday.
  • The statue was installed across from the Wall Street Charging Bull statue.
  • According to organizers, the statue was meant to symbolize wealth disparity.

A massive, 7-foot (2.13m)-tall statue of Harambe – the gorilla famously shot by zookeepers at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2016 after a young boy climbed into his enclosure – was installed across from the famous Wall Street Charging Bull on Monday. The statue was accompanied by thousands of bananas, which were arranged around the Charging Bull statue with the intent to later donate them to local food banks and community fridges, NBC News 4 reported.

The statue’s installation was organized by the founders of Sapien, a currently in-development social network that “prioritizes humans and what makes us special as a species,” according to the company’s blog. As organizers told NBC News 4, the installation was meant to symbolize wealth disparity and show just how “bananas” Wall Street has become.

“Harambe is a representation of something that lets us look at more than just ourselves,” Sapien co-founder Robert Giometti told NBC News 4 on Monday. “What are we aspiring to as people? It’s about connecting. A simple gesture of giving a banana builds community. As a society, we need to come together. We can’t keep fighting to come together.”

NBC News 4 reported some bystanders didn’t seem to wholly understand the message until reporters explained it to them, with one observer saying that they thought it was a “prank.”

Harambe, an endangered western lowland silverback gorilla, was 17 years old at the time of his death in May 2016. He was shot by zookeepers at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden after a 3-year-old boy fell into his enclosure, and his death led to outrage on the part of animal rights activists and discussions about zoo security, particularly in reference to small children.

A disproportionate national focus on Harambe’s death sparked a wave of memes that turned the gorilla into an internet icon.

Rallying cries like “justice for Harambe” or the more vulgar “dicks out for Harambe” became commonplace online as people lauded Harambe as a hero and a martyr over the last five years. The meme fervor carried over into real life. The Cincinnati Zoo temporarily deactivated its Twitter account (five years after the fact, it’s once again active), and online trolls leveraged Harambe memes in racist harassment against actor Leslie Jones, The New York Times reported.

The Harambe statue is far from the first art piece to accompany the Charging Bull, which was itself a guerrilla art piece before it was permanently placed at Bowling Green Park in 1989.

In 2017, Boston-based financial services firm State Street installed the “Fearless Girl” statue across from the bull on International Women’s Day. The statue currently resides in front of the New York Stock Exchange, just a few blocks away from its original location at Bowling Green.

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