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People Are Sharing This Sketchy Story About A Zoo Naming A Gorilla "Harambe McHarambeface"

Of all the things that never happened, this never happened the most.

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This story on a website called Boston Leader about a Chinese zoo naming a baby gorilla "Harambe McHarambeface" after its online poll was hijacked by American trolls is currently making the rounds online.

The story goes that Jinhua Zoo opened up an online poll to name an infant gorilla — originally named Heijin in Chinese. After the poll was discovered on "social media in the US", the name "Harambe McHarambeface" ended up topping the poll with 73,347 votes. The story goes so far as to quote an anonymous zoo official who told "local media" that they were stunned by the attention and plan to honor the online poll.

The whole thing is very reminiscent of two other stories, one from March, where an online poll to name a research vessel was hijacked by people wanting to name it Boaty McBoatface and another from August, done by the Philadelphia Zoo, where people voted to name a newborn gorilla Harambe.


The story is obviously going viral, but there are some major red flags, the first being that almost none of the links on Boston Leader work. Also, the story has no byline. The only active link on the page appears to be this two-sentence story about birds falling from the sky in Boston.


And if you search "Jinhua Zoo gorilla" on Weibo you only get one post, from March 2014.


“A beautiful and sunny weekend at the zoo. Even though I was told before we went that there are no gorillas or elephants at Jinhua Zoo, but once I got there I still had a good time!"

Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Ryan Broderick at

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