I don’t see anybody discussing the most important question in the story about a gorilla being shot at Cincinnati zoo because a boy fell into his enclosure. That question is this: why was the boy allowed to get or fall into the enclosure?
We are told that the boy climbed through a barrier and fell into a moat in the enclosure where he was grabbed by the gorilla, who incidentally was 17 years of age and very rare. He was quite a young gorilla therefore.
So, the boy climbed through a “barrier”. Clearly the barrier was not boy-proof. I can’t have been. It was an inadequate barrier. Did someone help him? Surely the owners of Cincinnati zoo should or could have foreseen the possibility of a boy climbing through the barrier. It is their job to assess risk. It is their job to protect the public. It is their job to protect kids from doing crazy things which may harm them when temporarily unattended by their parents (I know the mother was badly neglectful). And it is there job to protect the animals in their care. They have failed on all fronts.
The zoo failed to foresee this adequately. I think this is negligence. I think they should be sued to highlight this sort of inadequacy within zoos. This is not the first time it has happened by which I mean it is not the first time that a person, a child or an adult, has managed to get into a zoo enclosure in which a potentially dangerous animal lives.
Update…below is a photo of the enclosure. You can see the boy in the background with Harambe standing over him. There appears to no real barrier around the enclosure. Apparently the boy crawled under a steel railing and through wires and bushes. This barrier was not good enough.
There were four parties to this saga: the zoo keepers, the boy, the mother and the gorilla. All the humans are alive and the gorilla is dead.
Brian May the Queen guitarist said:
“Why was this gorilla murdered? No trial, no reason, no excuse. Who will prosecute?”
A similar incident regarding a gorilla took place in 1986 on the island of Jersey when a five-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure. The boy lost consciousness but the silverback gorilla stood guard over him rather than trying to harm him. The gorilla was distracted and the boy recovered.
In this instance, at Cincinnati zoo, the male, 400 pound gorilla dragged the boy around for about 10 minutes. He did not harm him but there was a threat that the boy might have been harmed and therefore the decision was made to shoot the gorilla dead. Tranquillisers would not have worked fast enough it is said.
The gorilla, Harambe, whose name was born in captivity in Texas and moved to Cincinnati zoo in 2014. It had been hoped that he could have been part of a breeding programme. His death is a great loss to the zoo. Notwithstanding that sentiment the zoo has failed the boy, the boy’s parents and the gorilla. The greatest loss has been suffered by the gorilla with his life. It should not have happened.
I reiterate, the zoo has been negligent. It was foreseeable that a boy could have done what this boy did and they failed to prevent it happening. That is the most important issue at stake in this story and as far as I can see nobody is discussing it. Thayne Maynard, the zoo’s spokesman has questions to answer.
The video says when the gorilla was shot the boy was sitting calmly on a rock.