Harambe, a 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla, was shot dead at Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday when a 4-year-old fell into the moat. Many visitors who felt helpless became frantic and started screaming. Among those screams were a woman shouting “Mommy loves you!.”
Two witness mentioned the 400-pound-plus gorilla approached the child and picked him out and pulled his pants up too. However, they believe all the screaming startled the gorilla.
The incident was recorded and the video became viral. At one moment, the gorilla can be seen dragging the boy in the shallow moat around.
Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Director, said “the gorilla didn’t appear to be attacking the child but was an extremely strong animal in an agitated situation.”
Cincinnati Zoo’s dangerous-animal response jumped into action and made the decision to shoot the gorilla for the safety of the child. Maynard said “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life as in danger and a quick decision had to be made.” He added tranquilizing the gorilla might agitate it even more.
Gorilla World exhibit has been opened since 1978 and this was the first breach. Western lowland gorillas are currently an endangered species in the world.
Critics have been voicing out regarding this incident. Some believe the parents should be charged for the death of Harambe due to their negligence. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) exclaimed: “Even under the ‘best’ circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it’s even deadly.”
The child has been released from the hospital and is doing fine.