Today’s new development in the ongoing Harambe saga is that prosecutors from Hamilton County, Ohio, said that the Cincinnati Police Department will look into the shooting death of the gorilla for possible criminal charges. On Tuesday, a Cincinnati police spokesman confirmed that investigators are “looking at the facts and circumstances” that permitted a 4-year-old boy to gain access to the Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.
On Tuesday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters issued a statement regarding the death of the 17-year-old silverback gorilla:
“The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo involving the young child who fell into the gorilla enclosure is under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department. Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges. When the investigation and review are complete, we will update the media.”
This was the first time police formally acknowledged that an criminal probe is underway regarding Saturday’s incident where the boy was dragged in the moat after falling into the gorilla’s enclosure.
“It’s too early to say whether it was recklessness on the part of the parent,” Lt. Steve Saunders told The Enquirer. “We’re just doing our due diligence to make sure we know what happened.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will also investigate the death of Harambe as well as the safety of the exhibits.
Thane Maynard, the zoo’s director, presented more specific details about the shooting death of Harambe:
Just before 4 p.m., a 4-year-old boy went over a stainless steel rail that’s a little more than 3 feet high, with vertical bars every eight feet. He made his way through the bushes to the edge of the moat, a distance of approximately 4 feet. From there, he dropped 15 feet to the moat, into a foot and a half of water. The boy, who has not been identified yet by authorities, started splashing around.
Keepers tried to call the gorillas inside. Two females in the exhibit complied. Harambe did not.
Harambe heard the commotion. Then, he spotted the child. The gorilla went down into the water and grabbed the boy by the ankle. Harambe carried the boy up a ladder to dry land and continued dragging him around.
A security team emptied the exhibit. Soon, the zoo’s dangerous animal response team dispatched Harambe with a single shot.
Fire officials said the boy was between the 450-pound gorilla’s legs at the time the animal was shot to death.
The animal protection group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) released a statement today that stated that the Cincinnati Zoo is responsible for the child’s entering the gorilla exhibit resulting in Harambe being shot to death.
The “Justice for Harambe” Change.org petition that demands that authorities hold the parents responsible for the gorilla’s untimely death has nearly 400,000 signatures.
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