Two days after officials in a Cincinnati zoo were forced to kill a gorilla after manhandling a four year old boy who got through the safety barriers of his enclosure and fell inside, it would seem that the general consensus over the event now was that the officials may have been a tad too hasty to resort to lethal measures.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, University of New England animal behaviour expert Gisela Kaplan said that the 420lb male silverback gorilla, named Harambe, was actually well aware that the child who slipped inside his zoo area was young and defenseless, and that its actions in holding the boy were more “examining” his unexpected visitor and not deliberate physical violence.
Professor Kaplan pointed out that Harambe did not go through the expected motions indicating that he saw the child as a threat, such as loudly beating his chest. The gorilla would have given ample warning first, but did not.
This and a new prevailing wave of opinions from several other scientists and specialists hold the view that while the Cincinnati Zoo’s lamentable course of action was regrettably necessary, a great deal of responsibility for the crisis could also be assigned to the boy’s parents, who were so neglectful of their child’s safety that he was able to penetrate multiple layers of safety barriers in one go to enter the enclosure shared by Harambe and some female gorillas (the latter were safely enticed out of the area while the male gorilla went straight for the boy). Zoo director Thane Maynard however described Harambe’s actions as placing the child at risk, with being dragged around by the silverback and his head banging repeatedly on the concrete walls.
The child was later taken to the hospital for some serious, but not life-threatening injuries. His parents defended zoo officials from criticism by animal rights groups and fully supported their choice to kill Harambe for their son’s sake.
A bystander had managed to record the whole incident which went viral and received global attention from major celebrities. Even Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump got his two cents on the event. Time recorded his comments that the decision to go for the kill was a tough call, but the zoo made a choice, or probably had no other choice with the child’s survival at stake. “It just takes one second,” Trump said in a speech regarding the incident. “It just takes one little flick of his finger.”
The Cincinnati Zoo nevertheless mourns the loss of their rare specimen, the silverback gorilla being listed as an endangered species. Harambe had been born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville Texas, and Cincinnati had hoped that he would have fathered more gorillas with their females as his mates.
Photo Credit to NYTimes
Photo Credit to NYTimes