An official at a government-funded non-profit organisation in West Virginia who was suspended after a Facebook post calling First Lady Michelle Obama an "ape in heels" is to be quietly reinstated, reports have said.

Pamela Ramsey Taylor originally wrote a now-deleted post that praised incoming first lady Melania Trump while making the racist remark about Michelle Obama: "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape [sic] in heels."

The ensuing uproar also took down Beverly Whaling, the mayor of the small West Virginia town of Clay, who resigned after commenting that the post had "just made my day".

The local Charleston Gazette-Mail paper quoted a letter from the acting director of the Clay County Development Corp., where Taylor was director, saying that she would be returning to her position from suspension on Friday 23 December.

Both Taylor and Whaling received threats over the post, according to the county sheriff. A petition set up calling for Taylor and Whaling to be fired garnered over 198,000 signatures. "This type of public discourse is completely unacceptable," it read.

The petition was also recently reactivated with the news that Taylor will be reinstated, calling on signatories to share the petition again "to show you won't stand for racism from public sector employees".

At the time of Whaling's resignation, a number of other Clay county officials sent apologies to the first lady and asked that the community not be judged by "for one or two individual acts".

Whaling told the Washington Post that she had not liked the Facebook comment for racist reasons: "I was referring to my day being made for change in the White House! I am truly sorry for any hard feeling this may have caused! Those who know me know that I'm not of any way racist!"