The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California made a jokey social media post on Tuesday, using a variety of impromptu internet terms to describe an otter named Abby.
“Abby is a thicc girl,” the post read, as reported by Jezebel. “What an absolute unit She c h o n k Look at the size of this lady OH LAWD SHE COMIN Another Internetism!”
The tweet had 5,000 retweets and 20,000 likes as well as 383 comments. But the following day, the aquarium was apologizing.
“Hey everyone. It has come to our attention that some of the references in this tweet are problematic and insensitive. We’re posting here in the thread so that people who have engaged with this tweet will join us in our learning moment,” the aquarium account said. “If our tweet alienated you, please know that we are deeply sorry, and that we offer our sincerest apologies. If you follow our feed, we often reference popular memes to talk about the ocean. In this case, the memes used had connotations we were unaware of until now.”
The aquarium went on to note that some of the references in the tweet had been drawn from African American Vernacular English (AAVE), in reference to Black women’s bodies, while going on to thank “those of you out there pointing out our blindspots and how we can improve.”
The account, it’s worth noting, did not delete the original tweet, and included the other four messages in a thread along with it. The aquarium is considering the entire thing a teachable moment, one that didn’t lead to boycotts or anything more escalated than that.
The replies to the thread were full of “otter” puns, such as “You otter do betta” and a rewrite of “Baby Got Back” with the lyrics changed to “I like big pups and I cannot lie, You other otters can’t deny.”
Abby the otter, according to the aquarium, is one of six resident female otters in the aquarium. She raises other orphaned otters.
“There’s a lot more to this sea otter than meets the eye,” the aquarium said in another tweet.
The case of Abby the Meming Sea Otter is perhaps the biggest social media brouhaha involving a zoo or aquarium since the great Harambe the Gorilla brouhaha in 2016 when, according to CNN, the Cincinnati Zoo deleted its Twitter account for a time after the nonstop memes and negative comments that followed the shooting death of the zoo’s beloved 450-pound gorilla.
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