It was Saturday [May 28, 2016] that the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden had little choice but to shoot and kill a western lowland gorilla after a four year old boy slipped and fell into the animal’s enclosure after crawling through a barrier.
According to Zoo director Thane Maynard at a press briefing following the occurrence, the 17-year old and 400-pound gorilla named Harambe picked up the child and dragged him around the habitat for around 10 minutes in what the zoo’s dangerous animal response team described as a life-threatening situation.
“The child was not under attack but all sorts of things could happen,”
“He certainly was at risk.”
also stressed that they decided against using a tranquilizer because it takes effect too slowly.
While the quick response did manage to save the young toddler’s life, zoo employees are still devastated with losing Harambe, a member of a very rare species.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, the western lowland gorilla, found in parts of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea is a critically endangered species
“They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life,”
Maynard continued.The four-year-old boy was taken to Cincinnati hospital medical center, and released on Saturday night.
The boy’s mother, Michelle Gregg, posted a message on Facebook expressing her gratitude that her son was safe and relieved that he was able to
“walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes.”
“As a society, we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me, I keep a tight watch on my kids,”
she continued in the statement, defending herself against claims she was a neglectant parent.
“Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”
The zoo director also expressed that tranquilizing the gorilla could have taken several attempts to be successful and would not go instantly into effect, leaving the boy in danger.
The delayed effect of the tranquilizer is the reason why the decision was made to shoot the gorilla.
Meanwhile, thousands of mourners have taken to the zoo grounds and social media alike to protest the actions of the zoo.
Additionally, more than 115,000 outraged people have signed a petition on Change.org calling for the boy’s parents
“to be held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) released a statement from its primatologist, Julia Gallucci, saying the zoo should have had better barriers between humans and gorillas.
“This tragedy is exactly why Peta urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at,”
the statement said.
As reported, the zoo’s Gorilla World is closed until further notice.