The Silverback gorilla named Harambe was shot dead at the Cincinnati zoo after a four year old boy fell into the animal enclosure. An onlooker took a video of it and posted it online. Animal activists and civilians have been expressing their outrage. The video seemingly shows the gorilla trying to protect the young boy and holding his hand in a non-aggressive manner before dragging him through the water.
The boy had fallen 12 feet into the enclosure. Eyewitnesses said the gorilla wasn’t showing frightening behavior. Some claim that it was the parents and adults in the background of the video screaming that scared the animal. The video shows the gorilla trying to hold the boy in a somewhat protective manner before pulling him to another end of the enclosure.
Harambe was 17 years old and 400 pounds. He was dragging the boy by his ankle around a moat. Zoo Director Thane Maynard argued the child was in immediate danger because of the gorillas agitated and erratic behavior. He went on to explain that Harambe’s strength was the key concern.
Maynard responded to criticism that Harambe wasn’t being aggressive,
“This child was being dragged around and his head was banging on the concrete, this was not a gentle thing.”
A petition on Change.org was created asking the parents be held responsible for the gorillas death. As of Monday afternoon more than 138,000 people have signed the petition. Regardless, the Cincinnati Police Department refused to press charges because they said a crime wasn’t committed.
Social media followers have communicated their anger at Michelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson, the parents of the boy. Followers, animal activists, and media outlets have chastised her for not watching her son more closely. The hashtag #JusticeforHarambe trended on Facebook and a vigil was held.
The parents commented on the issue through a public relations firm,
“We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.”
Michelle Gregg rationalized her parental negligence by posting an announcement on Facebook,
“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me, I keep a tight watch on my kids, accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”
Maynard defended the zoo’s actions,
“That child’s life was in danger. People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a Silverback gorilla — this is a dangerous animal, looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”
Gandhi said we judge a society best by how we treat our animals. If so, we have all learned a frightening truth about our own. While the end of the video clearly shows the boy in danger it could have all been avoided had the parents paid closer attention.
Featured image via Mirror.