Two weeks ago, a story that went viral nationally, involved that of a 3-year-old boy and a fatally shot 17-year-old gorilla named “Harambe.”
A young boy wandered from his mom, got past a 3’ railing and went through some bushes, covered 4’ of land before falling down 15’ into a moat and in the hands of an endangered gorilla.
Once in the water, “Harambe” went over to him and then dragged the boy in the water several feet before appearing to sit with the boy.
He then dragged the boy again through the water some more. The situation lasted for about 10 minutes before zoo officials made the decision to fatally shoot the gorilla.
The story first went viral when NBC affiliate WLWT published an edited video that showed the gorilla not doing anything threatening to the boy.
During the next day, more of the unedited video became available showing “Harambe” dragging the boy on multiple occasions.
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said “it was a life-threatening situation and the silverback gorilla is a very dangerous animal…We stand by our decision and we’d make the same call today.”
The debate on whether the Zoo made the right decision in killing the animal has been ongoing ever since that scary day.
“The Vandalia Leader’s” online poll showed close results. By a narrow margin, 17 of the 31 pollsters made up a majority who thought the Cincinnati Zoo took the right course of action in fatally shooting the gorilla.
There were 14 pollsters who said the Zoo should have used a tranquilizer or a different method.
Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna said he agreed “1,000%” with the Cincinnati Zoo’s decision.
Hanna said using a tranquilizer might take 5 to 10 minutes to take effect. He also said its usage might have aggravated Harambe even further, making him even more of a threat to the boy.
The group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) alleged several potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The same group had the Cincinnati Zoo on its radar after two polar bears escaped into a service hallway in March. Meanwhile, 500,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org pushing for attorneys to hold the boy’s parents accountable. But this past Monday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said “by all accounts, this mother did not act in any way where she presented this child to some harm.”
Hopefully, Deters’ remarks and this editorial is the end of publicity on this situation.
When you watch the full video, it’s obvious to me that this young boy’s life was in danger.
I instantly put myself into the parents’ shoes and think what would I have done given the same scenario?
It’s scary, it’s sad, but I’m glad the little boy survived. A tranquilizer would have likely made the situation worse for the boy. Zoo officials had to make a split second decision and they made the right one.