Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo made a decision to shoot and kill a 17-year-old gorilla after a toddler made his way into the animal’s cage. While some are outraged over the zoo’s decision, zoo officials, as well as many animal experts, stand behind their decision.
“In the real world you make difficult calls but you have to make them and the safety of that child was paramount,” said director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Thane Maynard following Saturday’s incident.
The four-year-old boy made his way through several barriers into the gorilla’s pen, and cell phone video captures images of the animal, named Harambe, dragging the small child through a water-filled moat. Zoo officials said a tranquilizer could have caused more harm, noting that tranquilizers take some time to work and often lead to aggression before they take full effect.
Animal expert and TV host, Jeff Corwin, stood behind the zoo’s decision, for the same reasons pointed out by zoo officials.
“It can take some significant time before an animal is sedated — as big as a 400 pound gorilla,” said Corwin. “It can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. It may take multiple shots. I think that’s a risk they weren’t willing to take.”
Nonetheless, many are angry at the parents of the children for what they see as a lack of proper parenting skills. In fact, a petition calling for the parents to be held liable for Harambe’s death is less than 3,000 signatures from the 300,000 goal.
“Zoos aren’t your babysitter,” Corwin added. “Take a break from the cell phone, the selfie stick and the texting. Connect with your children. Be responsible for your children. I don’t think this happened in seconds or minutes. I think this took time for this kid, this little boy to find himself in that situation. Ultimately it’s the gorilla that’s paid this price.”