Zoos around the world play an important role. Research, conservation, exposure, and education are all part of a zoo’s mission. It is more than just putting animals and cages for entertainment purposes. In fact, it is estimated that one in seven threatened species on earth are under guardianship of zoos. Zoos play a crucial role in protecting species on the threat of extinction through captive breeding, fundraising, direct action, and experts sharing vital information for survival. Furthermore, every year the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums financially support conservation work in the wild by contributing about $350 million. This is why no zoo takes the killing of one of their animals lightly.A three-year-old boy had jumped over the fence enclosure, a separation no taller than a baby gate.
He went through wires, bushes until he eventually fell 15 feet into a moat. Zoo officials immediately signalled the gorillas to go inside their enclosure
Harambe, a 440-pound silverback, western lowland gorilla, grabbed the child, dragging him, and splashing him in the shallow water.
That’s when zookeepers made the decision to shoot Harambe with a rifle rather than tranquilize him. Harambe died, allowing the workers to remove the child from the enclosure.
It drew outrage by many who questioned why zookeepers didn’t just tranquilize the animal. Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard replied that if they had to do it all over again, they would make the same decision.
Amanda O’Donoughue, a former zookeeper, posted on Facebook explaining what would have happened had zoo officials taken that approach.
This would have agitated the gorilla further, injuring the boy in the process. O’Donoughue said Harambe could have drowned since he was already in the moat and “possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.”
“People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla — this is a dangerous animal,” he said. “Looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”
She is the woman responsible for capturing the video footage that went viral. She recalls the boy telling his mom he wanted to go in the water. Within moments, the moment was in front of the silverback.
The family released a statement “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.”
Nonetheless, many wanted the parents charged with child negligence. A petition called “Justice for Harambe” was started with the goal to hold the parents criminally responsible for the gorilla’s death.
“We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life. We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation,” the petition stated.
“We had a very difficult situation and we made a difficult call at the end. I’m not here to point fingers about fault,” he said.
“We work hard to make sure this zoo is safe,” he added. “People can climb over barriers, that’s what happened.
“This was not a gentle thing. The child was at risk, ” he said. For her part, O’Donoughue wanted to emphasize that gorillas are extremely strong animals.
“What can you bench press?” she asked in her post. “OK, now multiply that number by ten.” O’Donoughue said that what happened was every zookeeper’s nightmare.
“I keep hearing that the Gorilla was trying to protect the boy. I do not find this to be true. Harambe reaches for the boys hands and arms, but only to position the child better for his own displaying purposes. Males do very elaborate displays when highly agitated, slamming and dragging things about,” she said. “Typically they would drag large branches, barrels and heavy weighted balls around to make as much noise as possible. Not in an effort to hurt anyone or anything (usually) but just to intimidate. It was clear to me that he was reacting to the screams coming from the gathering crowd.”
This is despite that on June 6, 2016, Ohio prosecutor Joe Deters, announced that the mother would not be facing any charges.
The zoo was also investigated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Ironically, both the USDA and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums had inspected the exhibit prior to the incident.
There are less than 175,000 left in the wild. There are an additional 765 gorillas in zoos around the world. Their numbers have dwindled dramatically due to poaching, deforestation, and disease.
Harambe is Swahili and it translates to communal labour. The Cincinnati Zoo became his new home on September 18, 2014.
Harambe lived with 10 other gorillas at the zoo. Two of the gorillas were Harambe’s half-sisters. Harambe didn’t have any offsprings at the time of his death as he had not reached breeding maturity.
->**The press release by the Cincinnati Zoo following Harambe’s death.**<-
Cincinnati Zoo Devastated by Death of Beloved Gorilla CINCINNATI (May 29, 2016) –The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden family is in mourning today and trying to process the death of 17-year-old gorilla Harambe. The gorilla was killed yesterday in order to save the life of a child who climbed through a public barrier at Gorilla World and dropped fifteen feet into the exhibit’s moat, which contained a foot of water. “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.” Zoo staff and Cincinnati Fire Department (CFD) were the first responders on the scene. According to a CFD incident report, the gorilla was violently dragging and throwing the child. Minutes later, the Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team arrived and made the difficult decision to put the gorilla down to save the child. The response team includes full-time keepers, veterinarians, maintenance, Zoo leadership and security staff members. All members are trained and certified annually by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. The four-year-old boy was transported to Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) after being removed from the exhibit. The child was released from CHMC Saturday night. “We’re glad to hear that the child is going to be okay. We’re touched by the outpouring of support from the community and our members who loved Harambe,” said Maynard. “The Zoo family is going through a painful time, and we appreciate your understanding and know that you care about our animals and the people who care for them.” Gorilla World opened in 1978, and this is the first time there has been a breach. The exhibit is inspected regularly by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and adheres to safety guidelines. “The safety of our visitors and our animals is our #1 priority,” said Maynard. “The barrier that we have in place has been effective for 38 years. Nevertheless, we will study this incident as we work toward continuous improvement for the safety of our visitors and animals.” The Zoo is home to nine western lowland gorillas. There are about 765 gorillas in zoos worldwide including approximately 360 in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) for this species. Western lowland gorillas are critically-endangered in the wild, with less than 175,000 individuals. Due primarily to habitat destruction caused by logging, mineral mining and agricultural expansion, wild gorilla numbers continue to shrink. The Cincinnati Zoo supports wild gorilla conservation efforts like the Mbeli Bai Study in Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in the Republic of Congo.
->**Watch the video of Harambe tossing the boy around.**<-