Another 3-Year-Old Boy Fell In A Gorilla Exhibit At A Zoo In 1996, But Video Shows A Much Different Outcome

The controversy over the premature death of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo continues to swirl. Many animal lovers and animal rights organizations are demanding for criminal charges against the parents of the 3-year-old boy, originally said to be 4-years-old, who managed to crawl into the zoo enclosure. People are also clamoring that Harambe didn’t need to be shot dead, despite the boy seemingly in grave danger. Zoo officials have stated that tranquilizers would have taken too long to immobilize the 450-pound beast and may have angered him. A similar incident happened 20 years ago, but the ending was far different.

Back on August 16, 1996, another 3-year-old boy fell into the gorilla exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo, outside of Chicago. The young boy’s fall caused him to lose consciousness. An 8-year-old female gorilla named Binti Jua noticed the visitor and walked over to him. The ape, who had her own baby on her back, picked up the child and carried him to safety.

“She was somewhat protective, too. Part of the video, she takes the child and sort of turns a shoulder to the other gorillas,” zoo worker Jay Peterson said.

“She carried him up around this part of the exhibit, through the river, made a right turn … went over to that log,” zoo worker Craig Demitros said. “She was gently kind of rocking the kid in her right arm.”

The boy was rushed to the hospital and made a full recovery.

However, there are some key differences between the two scenarios.

  • The child was unconscious, so he may not have been perceived as a threat to the gorilla. Meanwhile, last weekend’s boy was awake and moving.
  • Binti Jua was raised by humans, so she was more “people-oriented.”
  • Harambe was forcefully dragging the 3-year-old boy.
  • The Cincinnati Zoo director claims that Harambe “could crush a coconut in one hand.”
  • Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna said the zoo “made the correct decision” and agreed with them 1000 percent. He added that a tranquilizer shot would have aggravated the animal even further.

Cincinnati police have launched a criminal probe into the death of Harambe, to see if the mother’s negligence caused the animal to be shot dead.


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