On Saturday, a 4-year-old boy crawled under a barrier and fell into a moat that was in the enclosure where gorillas were at the Cincinnati Zoo. The gorilla, a 17-year-old Western Lowland gorilla named Harambe, took interest in the visitor. New footage of the incident shows the 400-pound gorilla violently dragging the young boy around before the gorilla was shot dead by the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team.
“The child was being dragged around,” zoo director Thane Maynard said. “His head was banging on concrete. This was not a gentle thing. The child was at risk.”
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Maynard rejected notions by “Monday morning quarterbacks” that said zoo officials shouldn’t have shot the animal dead. The zoo director said the animal was capable of crushing a coconut with his hands. He added that the boy was lucky that the gorilla didn’t do much worse because the animal had become agitated and disoriented by screams from the crowd.
People have been outraged over Harambe’s death, starting a petition for the parents of the boy to be charged for the death of the gorilla. The “Justice for Harambe” Change.org petition has over 300,000 signatures.
There was a makeshift memorial at the zoo where people left flowers and placards that read “R.I.P. Harambe,” “Because his life mattered” and “In loving memory, Harambe.” On Monday, a vigil was held outside of the zoo to honor Harambe.
The child is recovering from his serious, but non life-threatening injuries, and was released from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on Sunday.
Michelle Gregg, the 32-year-old mother of the boy who fell into the Gorilla World exhibit, broke her silence by posting a message on her Facebook. However, she quickly deleted the post after receiving backlash.
It turns out that Gregg works as an administrator at a Cincinnati preschool called Little Blossoms Academy, which has also been bombarded with criticism.
Gregg’s family released a statement through a public relations firm.
“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,” the statement from Gail Myers Public Relations said. “We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.”
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