Cincinnati Zoo kills gorilla to save child. But was it necessary?
Over the weekend, a Cincinnati Zoo killed a 17-year-old lowland gorilla after a 4-year-old boy managed to fall into the gorilla’s enclosure.
According to News24, Zoo Director Thane Maynard said the zoo's dangerous animal response team that practices for such incidents decided the boy was in "a life-threatening situation" and that they needed to put down the 180kg male gorilla named Harambe.
Witnesses reports in another News24 report claim that the gorilla did not seem to be attacking the boy: “The boy sat still in the water, looking up at the gorilla as the animal touched the child's hand and back. At one point, it looked as though the gorilla helped the youngster stand up.
Two witnesses said they thought the gorilla was trying to protect the boy at first before getting spooked by the screams of onlookers. The animal then picked the child up out of the moat and dragged him to another spot inside the exhibit, zoo officials said.”
Maynard also confirmed these statements saying that the gorilla didn't appear to be attacking the child, but he said it was "an extremely strong" animal in an agitated situation. He said tranquilising the gorilla wouldn't have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.
My initial reaction to this story was “Shame poor Gorilla, but I understand the reaction unlike that whole lion situation”. Last week zookeepers in Chile killed two African lions because some idiot man stripped down naked, jumped into the pen and started taunting the two lions. What a chop. And now the world is down two lions.
But when there was a child involved and because 4-year-olds don’t think very far ahead, I did feel a bit differently about this. Maybe it’s because the child didn’t mean to go into the enclosure. But as some people pointed out, where were the parents in this whole thing? An endangered animal could’ve been saved if parents had just been doing their jobs.
My child is as slippery as an eel which is why I constantly have eyes on him or I’m holding his hand. Even more so at a dangerous place like a zoo.
A zoo? Dangerous? Yes. There are wild animals that shouldn’t be in enclosures in the first place all over the place. And children are dumb and will try to find their way into places that they shouldn’t be going.
The whole situation is sad and unfortunate. Where does the blame lie? With no one and everyone, I suppose. The kid’s parents should have been keeping a closer eye on their child.
Was killing the gorilla the zoo’s only option? No, according to Chairman of The Gorilla Organization, Ian Redmond who said that keepers had other options besides a fatal shot.
"When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn't have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favourite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don't know and negotiate with them," he told CNN.
"I don't know if that was tried or people thought there was too much danger but it does seem very unfortunate that a lethal shot was required," he said.
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