Aquarium apologises for racially sexualising an otter in meme tweet

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An aquarium in California, Los Angeles, has made a public apology on social media following  tweet which was made from their Twitter account. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium posted a snap of one of their otters, named Abby, in which they referred to her as 'thicc' and wrote: 'OH LAWD SHE COMIN.'

It seems that some people have taken issue with the use of these phrases, saying that they come from African American Vernacular English and refer to the bodies of black women, usually in a sexualised nature. 

'Hey everyone. It has come to our attention that some of the references in this tweet are problematic and insensitive,' the aquarium tweeted. We're posting here in the thread so that people who have engaged with this tweet will join us in our learning moment'

'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.'

'In particular, several terms referenced originated from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and specifically reference Black women's bodies. Using them in a sea otter meme without that background makes insinuations we never intended. We need to do better.'

'Our mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean, and we're thankful for your support as we try to advance that mission on social media. We're also thankful for those of you out there pointing out our blindspots and how we can improve. Thanks everyone.'

There has been a huge division in the thread regarding whether or not the tweet had roots in racism. 

'Why would anyone take offence. It's an otter. It's about an otter. It is obviously incomparable to any human physique, race, or ethnicity. Focus on real problems, the actual bigots in offices, not non-factors like meme posts about an OTTER. Choose worthy battles,' wrote one follower. 

However, others felt that the tweet compared black women to animals: 'I’m certain that @MontereyAq didn’t realize that they were basically comparing Black women to animals by using AAVE developed to talk about Black women’s bodies to describe an animal,' wrote another. 

'Denying the harm done to black women and telling them to sit down and deal is a typical, privileged response,' wrote another. 

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