There has been surging outrage after the Cincinnati Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team was forced to shoot and kill a 400-pound gorilla after a 4-year-old boy wandered into the animal’s enclosure on Saturday. There is an outcry to hold the parent’s of the child responsible for the death of Harambe, a Western Lowland gorilla, who was shot dead one day after his 17th birthday.
There is a Change.org petition, “Justice for Harambe,” that already has over 113,000 signatures.
This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision. Witnesses claim that they heard the child state that he wished to go into the enclosure and was actively trying to breach the barriers. This should have prompted the parents to immediately remove the child from the vicinity. It is believed that the situation was caused by parental negligence and the zoo is not responsible for the child’s injuries and possible trauma. 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. We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence that may result in serious bodily harm or even death. Please sign this petition to encourage the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and Cincinnati Police Department hold the parents responsible.
The boy who climbed through a barrier surrounding the gorilla enclosure and fell 12 feet into the moat around the exhibit was taken to the hospital but has no serious injuries. The identity of the boy or his parents have not been released.
The boy’s family released a statement:
“We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”
The boy’s mother told the New York Post, “God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries.”
Ohio Law provides for a misdemeanor of endangering children if a parent of a child under eighteen years of age creates “a substantial risk to the health or safety of the child, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.”
“I am not aware of any intentions to charge the parents of the child that entered the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. If I learn of any such considerations, I will let you know,” Lt. Steve Saunders of the Cincinnati Police Department told LawNewz.com in an email.
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard released a statement on Facebook:
“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. The gorilla was reportedly dragging and throwing the child. Zoo officials said they could not use tranquilizers on “Harambe” because they “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.”
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