Last weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo, a viral video captured the panic of the crowd after a three-year-old child fell into a gorilla enclosure. For ten minutes, the child was trapped in the exhibit with a silverback gorilla named Harambe, until zoo officials made the decision to shoot the gorilla to save the child’s life. Since then, Harambe’s death has sparked a national debate: did the zookeeper’s make the right choice?
The video, shot by a bystander, shows Harambe dragging the boy through the enclosure by his ankles, stopping a few times to pull up the three-year-old’s pants and look the boy over. Throughout the two minutes captured, people are screaming for help as they witnessed the 450-pound-animal move the child around. Some argue that the 17-year-old gorilla seemed to be protecting the child instead of trying to terrorize it.
While Cincinnati Zoo director Thayne Maynard stands by the decision to shoot Harambe, many zoo and gorilla experts have banded together against the fatal decision. Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna publicly argued that the decision was crucial in order to protect the child from harm. Famous primatologist Jane Goodall did not take a public stand and comment on the controversial matter. Instead, Goodall wrote a remorseful public email to Director Maynard, expressing her sorrow for the loss.
The event has also provoked false articles by news sources, contending that presidential candidate Hilary Clinton said that if the gorilla’s skin were white, the gorilla wouldn’t have been killed. All over the country, op-eds have emerged arguing for both sides of the controversial situation.
Since Harambe is an endangered species of western lowland gorilla, the killing sparked even more outrage. Over 100,000 signatures filled an online petition named “Justice for Harambe” only two days after the story released. The petition calls for the boy’s family to be called into question. As of June 3, the family is under investigation. The Hamilton County Prosecution office will make a statement on Monday, June 6.