A 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed yesterday after a 3-year-old fell into the zoo exhibit.
It was an ordinary Saturday for tourists and locals at the Cincinnati Zoo until a 3-year-old boy climbed through the railing of an exhibit and fell into the moat. Within ten minutes of the incident, a 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed.
CNN reports that the child was hospitalized with serious injuries after the 400-pound gorilla pulled the boy from the water and began dragging him through the enclosure. While some spectators claim the large animal seemed to be trying to care for the three-year-old, officials relay that the zoo animal’s behavior was dangerous.
According to the Cincinnati fire department, the gorilla “was violently dragging and throwing the child” when they were called. As a result, zoo officials made the bold decision to shoot to kill the gorilla while the child was between Harambe’s legs.
Zoo director Thane Maynard told the press:
“It’s a sad day all around. They made a tough choice and they made the right choice, because they saved that little boy’s life. It could have been very bad.”
Reportedly, the gorilla was not tranquilized because when the animal is agitated, the tranquilizer may not take effect right away. This is the first time the Cincinnati Zoo has killed an animal in this manner, says Maynard.
While zoo officials maintain that shooting Harambe was the only option, an angry chorus of critics has expressed their opinion that the gorilla’s death was unnecessary. In fact, they’re blaming the mother for failing to look after her son.
According to Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, one of the eyewitnesses who captured some of the incident on her phone, the boy was joking to his mother about going into the water 15 feet below before he dropped into the moat. At first, it appeared that the gorilla was trying to help the boy. Harambe stood the toddler up and pulled up his pants. As the crowd grew, however, the gorilla seemed to become increasingly agitated and possessive of the boy.
After the gorilla was shot, the unnamed boy was rushed to the hospital. He was later released unhurt.
Activists maintain that it was poor parenting that led to the death of Harambe. In result, a number of angered citizens are suggesting that the boy’s parents be held criminally responsible for the incident. An online petition seeking “justice for Harambe” through criminal charges earned more than 8,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.
It didn’t take long for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to Tweet that the tragic episode was the latest proof that “captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates.”
3/4 Even under the "best" circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates & in cases like this it's even deadly.
— PETA (@peta) May 29, 2016
The public’s response concerning the incident has, of course, been mixed.
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