The Monterey Bay Aquarium has apologized for poking fun at the weight of its beloved otter, Abby, after users on Twitter objected to their word choices in a recent tweet.
On Tuesday, December 18th, the California aquarium paid homage to Abby, an otter who helps train orphaned Lutrinaes back into a normal life of existence. In what was supposed to be a humorous gesture pointing out the rotund nature of Abby, a tweet sent from their account turned into a PR nightmare for their social media team.
Abby is a thicc girl— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) December 18, 2018
What an absolute unit
She c h o n k
Look at the size of this lady
OH LAWD SHE COMIN
Another Internetism ! pic.twitter.com/s5fav2gu09
Each of these sayings are popular ways of describing curvier than usual humans and are often featured in memes.
Monterey Aquarium then followed it up by saying, "body pawsivity," a play on "body positivity" campaigns used to promote self-esteem amongst all body types.
But, shortly after these tweets, Monterey backtracked and apologized and called it "a learning moment."
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. 1/4— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) December 19, 2018
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. 2/4— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) December 19, 2018
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. 3/4— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) December 19, 2018
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. 4/4— Monterey Bay Aquarium (@MontereyAq) December 19, 2018
This all seems very silly. It was very clearly not to be taken seriously nor to degrade fellow humans. Abby is a large animal. It was a funny tweet.