“Harambe” blazoned jerseys, inspired by the gorilla put to death at the Cincinnati zoo, are back on sale after a brief ban.
Wednesday an employee of Fanatics, a retail company for the four major North America professional sports leagues, added the name of America’s favorite dead gorilla to the list of words forbidden to be carved into the fabric of MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL sports jerseys.
ESPN reported on Thursday that after protests appeared on social media platforms, Fanatics officials deemed that “Harambe” shouldn’t be lumped in with thousands of mostly profane words and removed the name from the banned list.
— Tank The Hank (@TheHankofTanks) September 15, 2016
The NCAA is now blocking custom "HARAMBE" jersey creation as well. What is going on people?
— Luke Rodgers (@thelukerodgers) September 14, 2016
In an unfortunate incident at the Cincinnati Zoo in May, when a three-year-old child got through a protective barrier and fell into Harambe’s habitat, zoo officials killed the adult male gorilla. Video showed Harambe dragging the child like a rag doll through a shallow waterway. Animal activists expressed outrage at Harambe’s killing, while online messages on social media exploded.
In August social media outrage over Harambe’s death was so strong that the zoo terminated its Twitter account.
A spokesperson for Fanatics insists, “There is no ban on ‘Harambe’ and the NFL never asked for this name to be banned.”
The company said once they realized the employee made a mistake they fixed it. CNBC reported that customers who tried to input “Harambe” in the customized name section of the online order received an error pop-up, indicating ”We are unable to customize this item with the text you have entered, please try a different entry again.”