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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 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.

Photo: Getty
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Banning Britain First is great, but we can’t rely on Facebook to save us from racist populism

There are darker niches on social media, and wider social pressures behind them. 

Facebook's biggest UK political party is no more. The social media site has banned Britain First, the fringe far-right political party, which, despite having no elected MPs, MEPs or even councillors, amassed more than two million Likes on its page.

The ban is the most visible move to date that social networks are keen to be seen to be taking action against extremist content among a political backlash against the tech giants from countries across Europe, and the US itself.

It follows a similar ban of the party’s leaders from Twitter earlier this year, after President Donald Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos posted by Britain First’s deputy leader.

Facebook’s move takes out one of the most powerful distribution channels for anti-Muslim content online. The page used quite sophisticated social media strategies to spread its message, posting inoffensive patriotic imagery – support our armed forces; oppose animal cruelty – to reach a wide audience, while thrpwing more explicit anti-Muslim posts into the mix.

This blend of content was itself dangerous, serving to normalise anti-Muslim views among a huge audience of casual Facebook users, many of whom were older adults. Last year, we analysed more than one million Likes on Britain First posts – about six weeks’ worth – for BuzzFeed News, finding that, while relying on a hardcore of several hundred users, the page worked successfully to reach a large pool of casual viewers, some of whom would likely be unaware of the group’s motivations.

This made the public Britain First page a powerful tool for reaching potentially sympathetic would-be recruits, but also in generating an active core membership – a power Facebook clearly recognised with its decision to ban the group.

But we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking we can tackle the rise of populism with a scattergun technological fix. The social pressures behind the popularity of such groups won’t change, and so, without clear policies, Facebook risks political incoherence and accusations of censorship. 

Britain First and the material they post have been extensively covered in the mainstream media for the past 18 months, yet they were allowed to continue posting more. Facebook must explain why such posts were considered acceptable over this period, before suddenly becoming unacceptable now. The far right is talented at exploiting “censorship” to its own advantage, claiming it is speaking the truths that those in power do not want to hear.

That doesn’t mean the group should have been allowed to continue on Facebook, but it does mean the limitations of speech are on each social network should be set out clearly and in detail.

This is particularly important because Britain First’s Facebook presence was just the most visible part of a far-right Facebook ecosystem – the nastiest content is much harder to see, hidden away in closed groups which admit new users by invitation only.

Because such groups – which often go by names such as “NO SHARIA LAW” or similar – are hidden, it is much harder to track their activity and their membership, but they number in the hundreds and some have thousands or hundreds of thousands of members. While Britain First might be the visible portion of anti-Muslim Facebook content, its these groups that likely pose the larger challenges, especially as it is not in the open where it can be challenged.

Going further, tackling the public groups helps disrupt the feed of users who could be radicalised into becoming active members of the far-right, but could serve to further radicalise those already within the private groups. There is a delicate balancing act to be tackled, and one which serves to show how important Facebook is now in public policy debates: in practical terms, a US technology company is now more influential than government policy when it comes to online extremism.

It will be a welcome relief to many that Britain First content won’t pollute their feeds any longer – but it highlights how much power we have delegated, how much Facebook can shape our rules, and how tech is running ahead of our laws and our own social decisions.

Banning Britain First from Facebook might be a move many of us like – but we shouldn’t rely on big tech to save us from populism, and its accompanying tide of racism. These are conversations we should be having – and battles we should be fighting – as a society.

James Ball is an award-winning freelance journalist who has previously worked at the Guardian and Buzzfeed. He tweets @jamesrbuk