The Cincinnati Zoo, which was battling a PR crisis earlier this summer after one of its gorillas named Harambe was shot in order to save a child’s life, is back under media spotlight.
Just as most people started to forget about the unfortunate incident, the zoo made national headlines once again by deleting its Twitter account Monday.
The decision came after the Cincinnati Zoo’s Twitter account had been bombarded for weeks with memes of Harambe.
— WSHH FANS (@WORIDSTARHIPH0P) June 7, 2016
— Don't At Me M8 (@DontAtMeM8) August 22, 2016
Michael Phelps secret to cupping is Harambe pic.twitter.com/tpK4LbkS49
— Jared Leasure (@JaredLeasure) August 13, 2016
“We are not amused by the memes, petitions and signs about Harambe. Our zoo family is still healing, and the constant mention of Harambe makes moving forward more difficult for us. We are honoring Harambe by redoubling our gorilla conservation efforts and encouraging others to join us,” said the Cincinnati Zoo a statement to the Associated Press this week.
The organization’s decision is easy to understand, as each of its recent posts seemed to be immediately inundated with snarky replies referencing the beloved gorilla.
Still, we at Red Banyan think that, from the crisis PR standpoint, the Cincinnati Zoo’s social media managers shouldn’t have disposed of the organization’s Twitter handle. Even though there was a spike in Harambe memes and trolling on Twitter in recent weeks, the overall conversation pertaining to the tragic event has largely subsided. Deleting the Twitter account was counter-productive, as it brought the issue back under media spotlight and sparked fresh interest in the story.
In addition, giving in to cyber bullies and simply shutting down one of its social media platforms won’t solve the Cincinnati Zoo’s problem, as the memes and hurtful comments can easily migrate to the organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
What the zoo should have done is ignore the trolls and continue business as usual. As with any Internet fad, Harambe memes will go away eventually, but the Cincinnati Zoo and its staff, whose swift and professional actions saved a three-year-old boy’s life when he fell into the gorilla’s enclosure, are likely to be there for years to come.