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“Not angry. More disappointed”: Harambe speaks via a telepathic animal communicator

Twelve months later, how does the gorilla feel about his life, death, and status as a meme? 

Harambe died just one day after his 17th birthday. On 28 May 2016, the Western lowland gorilla was shot and killed at his home in Cincinnati Zoo. Moments before a single rifle shot ended his life, Harambe had picked up a three-year-old boy who had climbed a fence and fallen into his enclosure. Though there was no sign that he would deliberately harm the child, officials took the decision to act quickly.

This Sunday marks the anniversary of Harambe’s death, and yet his memory has barely even begun to fade. Almost immediately after the killing, Harambe became a posthumous meme and in the last 12 months has been featured in collages, videos, jokes, and even – in the case of the 2016 American election – ballot papers. Figuratively, then, Harambe’s spirit lives on.

Oh, and also literally too.

“Telepathic animal communicators” are individuals with the ability to communicate with animals living or dead. After Cecil the Lion was murdered in July 2015, animal communicator Karen Anderson spoke with him and revealed to VICE that the Southwest African cat was “finer than ever, grander than before”. Inspired by this – and my series Living the Meme, which finds out what happens after people go viral – I got in touch with Harambe.

He is not happy with humans.

***

Animal communication is a surprisingly saturated market. Yet although I reach out to a few different communicators, I immediately face problems. One – from Kentucky – wants $500 (£391) to speak with Harambe; another has been advised by her lawyer not to talk to animals from zoos after she was sued by a carriage horse association. Another still refuses involvement when I relay that I would like her to ask Harambe for his opinion on the social media trend, “Dicks out for Harambe”.

Pea Horsley, an animal communicator who runs the website www.animalthoughts.com and is the author of The Animal Communicator’s Guide Through Life, Loss and Love, does agree to speak with me – and Harambe. She immediately communicated with the gorilla after his death in 2016, and says she will be able to provide me with his verbatim quotes about how he feels now.

“I used to be a theatre stage manager for 15 years, very successful, and it gave me the training of listening, especially to words,” she explains.

“Which in turn makes me good at listening to the electromagnetic energy which get translated into thought forms. Animal communication is a non-verbal universal language across species. If you read any of my books you'll be able to see what I mean.”

***

According to Karen Anderson – the lady who first spoke to Cecil, who is a lion – Harambe was initially very confused about his death. “I had to explain what happened to him several times,” she wrote in a Facebook post at the time. Nearly 365 days later, is he more at peace?

Pea sends me over what Harambe said to her in a Word document, which I have copied verbatim here.

“My message to those who know my name.

I am just like you,”

he begins.

“If you had been in a cage.

And a baby gorilla fell in.

And a lot of adult gorillas were screaming, shouting, fearful and anxious above…

What would you do? What?

Imagine yourself there.

Just for a minute.”

***

Harambe explains – via Pea – that he felt threatened, scared, protective, and defensive during the incident. After being shot, he felt “Confused. Let down. Bewildered” but not, Pea relays, angry.

“But no – not angry. More disappointed,” are his words.

More than anything, the gorilla wishes for quiet and family, and is distressed and confused about humanity’s disrespect for “all species”.

“The planet cries,” is his powerful message. 

“I feel immense, deep sadness when I observe the world I left behind. I wish life was different. Honourable. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle.

“When will humans start to love again? Love each other? Love themselves? I wish to see this.

“Here, I am peaceful now. I wish to bring in more peace with my message.

“I love you.”

***

On his meme status, Harambe only has one thing to tell Pea – and he is very humble. 

“I am myself. Not special. Not a celebrity.” 

Seeking further answers, I reached out to Charles Peden, an animal communicator and psychic medium. Despite his tight schedule, Charles agrees to speak with Harambe and ask specifically how he feels about being a meme. I hope that getting two animal communicators to speak with Harambe in one day is not too bothersome for the gorilla who, after all, deserves peace.  

“Harambe does not like the publicity and he has no way to be in peace.”

Charles's personal assistant relays the results of his communication with Harambe - and it's bad news for meme fans.

“He is irate and is saddened that they would take his tragedy and turn it into a joke,” she says. Of herself and Charles, she reveals: “We both feel his answer and then some.”

For those who meme, Harambe's reponse may be disappointing - but his message certainly isn't. The gorilla in life - and now in death - reminds us all to seek a more peaceful world. 

“Living the Meme” is a series of articles exploring what happens to people after they go viral. Check out the rest in the series here.

To suggest an interviewee for Living the Meme, contact Amelia on Twitter.

 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

Artie Limmer/Texas Tech University
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Meet the evangelical Christian persuading believers that climate change is real

Katharine Hayhoe's Canadian missionary parents told her science and God were compatible. Then she moved to Texas. 

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, alarm rose with each mention of climate change. Denial, dismissal and repeated chants of “hoax” left no doubt as to his position.

Now President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has been seen as a seminal moment in the fight against climate change - one which many fear could lose the battle ahead of humanity.

But one scientist has been fighting a war of her own on the ground, against those who typically doubt the facts about global warming more than most - the evangelical Christian population of America.

And to make matters even more unusual, Katharine Hayhoe herself is an evangelical Christian who lives in the indisputably "bible belt" of Lubbock, Texas.

The atmospheric scientist has been named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people and one of Politico’s 50 thinkers transforming American politics. Now she is using her considerable heft to speak to those who are hardest to convince that there is a manmade problem that threatens the Earth’s future.

I meet her at the science and music festival Starmus in Trondheim, Norway, where she is to address the attendees on Thursday in a talk entitled "Climate Change: Facts and Fictions".

Hayhoe was born in Canada, to missionary parents. Her father, a former science educator, showed her that there was no conflict between the ideas of God and science. However, it was something of a surprise to her when she discovered her pastor husband, whom she married in 2000, did not feel the same about climate change. It took her two years to convince him.

What started as a conversation became an organised project when she moved to America's South in the mid 2000s. 

“Moving to Lubbock was a culture shock," she tells me. "When I moved there I wasn’t doing much outreach, but it moved me in that direction.

“Lubbock is very conservative. It’s small and isolated.

“I would say the majority of people in Lubbock are either dismissive or doubtful about climate change. I was surrounded by people - neighbours, parents of friends, people at church, colleagues down the hall in the university - who weren’t convinced.”

So Hayhoe, who works as an associate professor and director of the Climate Science Centre at Texas Tech University, set to work. She began to collect the responses she was seeing to the climate change discussion and prepare her counter-argument.

“When I talk to people who are doubtful, I try to connect with the values they already have," she says. “The greatest myth is the myth of complacency - that ‘it doesn’t really matter to me’.

"But I would say that the second most insidious myth is that you only care about this issue if you’re a certain type of person. If you’re a green person, or a liberal person, or a granola person."

The stereotypes mean that people outside that demographic feel "I can't be that kind of person because that's not who I am", as she puts it.

Hayhoe convinced her husband using data, but rather than repeating a formula, she tries to find out what will resonate with different people: "For many groups, faith is a core value that people share.”

Whether she’s speaking to city planners, water company managers, school kids or Bible believers, Hayhoe says her hook is not the facts, but the feelings.

“I recently talked to arborists," she says. "For them, trees and plants are important, so I connect with them on that, and say ‘because we care about trees, or because we care about water or what the Bible says then let me share with you from the heart why I can about these issues because it affects something that you already care about’.

“My angle is to show people that they don’t need to be a different person at all - exactly who they already are is the kind of person who can care about climate change.”

Hayhoe came to public attention in the United States after appearing in a Showtime series on climate change. She has appeared on panels with Barack Obama and Leonardo DiCaprio, and launched a web series. As well as plaudits, this level of fame has also earned her daily threats and online abuse. 

“My critics think they’re coming from a position of religion, but they aren’t," she says. "They’re actually coming from a very specific political ideology which believes that the government should not have control over people’s lives in any way shape or form - very libertarian, free market, free economy, Tea Party."

She believes that in the United States, faith and politics has been conflated to the point "people can no longer tell the difference". 

“Now it’s conservatism that informs religion," she elaborates. "If the two are in conflict - like the Bible says God has given us responsibility over everything on this earth - then people say ‘oh, we can’t affect something as big as this Earth, God will take care of it anyway’."

Around half of those who attack her on social media identify themselves as Christians, she notes, but almost all call themselves conservatives. 

As a scientist, she’s been preparing data herself - naturally - on her online attackers, with depressingly familiar results.

“As soon as you stick your head out of the trench, you get it. There have been papers published showing that white men disproportionately form up that small group of dismissives. They’re almost all men. When I track my social media comments, I would say that 99.5 per cent of them are white men.

“Out of 1,000 negative comments, I have maybe five from women.”

After the climate change argument moved up a gear - following the Paris withdrawal - Hayhoe admits that she and her fellow scientists are concerned, although she pays tribute to the businesses, cities and states from the US that have committed to following the Paris agreement themselves.

On the subject of the chief white male denier, Trump himself, Hayhoe says she has a discussion point which she feels may convince him to think carefully about his role in the fight against global warming’s impact on humanity.

“I would attempt to connect with the values that he has and show him how acting on this would be in his best interests," she says.

“One guess would be ‘what do you want your legacy to be? What do you want to be known as, the man who destroyed the world, or the man who saved it?’”

Katharine Hayhoe is speaking at Starmus on Thursday June 22. For more details, visit Starmus.

Kirstie McCrum is a freelance journalist. Follow her @kirstiemccrum.

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