Many people are pointing fingers at the parents of a four-year-old that found himself inside the enclosure of the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday which led to the death of a 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla. How was the child unsupervised long enough to climbed over the Gorilla World enclosure, drop 15-feet into a foot of water and end up face-to-face with this wild animal? That’s the question surfacing social media sites tonight.
“We’re 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,” Zoo Director Thane Maynard said. “Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It’s important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers don’t 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.”
It’s not only the zoo that is heartbroken over the killing of the beautiful creature, but the fans of the Gorilla World. It was reported in the Cincinnati Fire Department incident report that the child climbed through the public barrier and once in the enclosure and upon their arrival, Harambe had the child and a quick decision had to be made. It was reported that the gorilla was violently dragging and throwing the child. Within minutes of the event, the zoo staff and the Cincinnati Fire Department were first at the scene. Next to arrive was the Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team arrived. This team is made up of the zoo leader, the full-time keepers, veterinarians, maintenance, and security staff. This team had to make the quick decision to put an end to Harambe’s life- to save the child.
The Zoo, since the incident, has released a video of the incident, defending their decision. However, the video did not demonstrate the severity of the situation of the “violent dragging and throwing” of the child. Either the full video is being held for investigations or ….. you fill in the blanks. But, again- where were the parents of this child? Their names have not been released.
“The safety of our visitors and our animals is our number one priority,” Maynard said. “The barrier that we have in place has been effective for 38 years. Nevertheless, we will study this incident as we work toward continuous improvements for the safety of our visitors and animals.”
For 38 years, the visitors and gorillas have been safe with the same enclosure. This was the first reported incident since the introduction of the gorillas in 1978. What happened yesterday? Why were the parents distracted? Where they on their cell phones? Did they have too many children they were responsible for at the time of visiting the gorillas? Were they just irresponsible parents that were expecting others to watch their child? These are the questions that are surfacing social media. Gorilla lovers are stating that the zoo should sue the parents for the death of an endangered animal.
The Cincinnati Zoo is one of the 360 zoos, worldwide that house Western lowland gorillas. Cincinnati has 9 of them-one less from yesterday. Currently, there are 765 Western lowland gorillas in captivity. They are deemed to be critically endangered in their natural habitat. Because of increased logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, there are less than 175,000 in existence.
The child was taken by EMS to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and later released.
What are your thoughts on this topic?