"I feel so sorry for you, having to try to defend something which you may well disapprove of," Goodall wrote.
Ever since news surfaced of a 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe being shot by zoo officials after a three-year-old toddler fell into his exhibit, the internet has been flooded with opinions on the matter.
Some activists are demanding that the boy’s parents be held responsible for the death of gorilla while others are defending the zoo’s actions, citing that tranquilizers would have taken too long to go into effect, therefore, the right decision was made.
Regardless of your opinion, it might be agreed that the event in all its forms was horrific. What the world needs concerning this tragic accident is more compassion, and Jane Goodall – the famous primatologist – was one of the first to offer her condolences to Cincinnati’s zoo director, Thane Maynard.
“Dear Thane,” Goodall wrote,
“I feel so sorry for you, having to try to defend something which you may well disapprove of. I tried to see exactly what was happening — it looked as though the gorilla was putting an arm around the child — like the female who rescued and returned the child from the Chicago exhibit.”
Indeed, True Activist reported on this fact yesterday, in which a new video revealed the gorilla holding hands with the toddler prior to being shot.
But Goodall was referring to an incident which took place in 1996 when a 3-year-old boy fell into Binti Jua’s enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo. In that event, the gorilla protected the boy while she carried her own baby on her back.
And, as The Dodo relays, the statement she refers to is the one Maynard disclosed after the incident:
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team. Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.”
“Anyway, whatever, it is a devastating loss to the zoo, and to the gorillas. How did the others react? Are they allowed to see, and express grief, which seems to be so important.”
The primate specialist shows how questions can be asked in compassionate fashion while respecting all beings’ mourning process.
“Feeling for you,” she signed the letter, “Jane.”
If the toddler were to have died in the pen with the gorilla, undoubtedly more outrage would have ensued. The zoo officials, it seems, did what they could to ensure the young boy’s safety. Of course, this has inspired debate on the topic of whether or not zoos should exist in the first place.
After all, plenty of evidence suggests that animals would much rather be thriving in the wild, rather than be made a spectacle of for human entertainment. And, the conservation argument is no longer entirely valid, as this article explains.
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