By Vandita | We Are Anonymous
It’s been a week since Harambe, a 17-year-old critically endangered Western lowland silverback gorilla, was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo when trying in order to save a 4-year-old boy who had fallen into the moat surrounding his enclosure.
The death of Harambe not only caused outrage on social media, it also infuriated animal rights activistswho are now asking pertinent questions: Did the zoo make the right decision in killing the gorilla? Was a lethal shot the only option? Why didn’t the zoo officials tranquilize Harambe?
The unfortunate incident has ignited uproar the world over, with some criticizing the zoo’s decision to put down the gorilla instead of sedating, or drawing the animal away from the boy: and others blaming the boy’s mother for not supervising the child, which resulted in Harambe’s death.
Whether the zoo sues the parents because the gorilla ended up getting killed, or if the mother sues the Cincinnati Zoo for not making the gorilla compound secure enough, the latest footage suggests the child was NOT in danger. In fact, the gorilla was protecting, rather than threatening, the boy minutes before he was shot dead.
Eyewitnesses to the incident have also claimed the gorilla was showing no aggression towards the boy until the screams from the onlookers panicked Harambe, causing him to drag the boy across the water.
A similar incident happened in 1996, at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, when a 3-year-old boy slipped away from his mother and tumbled more than 15 feet into a pit holding several gorillas. Binti Jua, then an 8-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla, scooped up the toddler and mothered him for several minutes, while toting her own 17-month-old baby on her back, before carrying him safely to paramedics. The 20 year old video also shows Binti Jua carrying the limp boy while zookeepers spray water from above to keep the other gorillas in the exhibit from interfering.
Same incident, same animal, but neither the gorilla nor the child died. The outcome could have been different at the Cincinnati Zoo too if only…
Ian Redmond, chairman of The Gorilla Organization, told CNN zookeepers had other options:
“When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know and negotiate with them. I don’t know if that was tried or people thought there was too much danger but it does seem very unfortunate that a lethal shot was required.”
But former zookeeper Amanda O’Donoughue, who has worked with gorillas as a zookeeper in her 20s, defended Cincinnati Zoo’s controversial decision to shoot the gorilla as the only way to save the child. She attempted to explain why using a tranquilizer may not have been a good idea in a viralFacebook post, which is now deleted for reasons unknown:
“Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first (again due to mere size and strength, not malicious intent) Why didn’t they use treats? Well, they attempted to call them off exhibit (which animals hate), the females in the group came in, but Harambe did not. What better treat for a captive animal than a real live kid!
“They didn’t use Tranquilizers for a few reasons: A. Harambe would’ve taken too long to become immobilized, and could have really injured the child in the process as the drugs used may not work quickly enough depending on the stress of the situation and the dose. B. Harambe would’ve have drowned in the moat if immobilized in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.”
As debate over the incident continued, Redmond insisted that Harambe could have lived. He wrote inThe Guardian:
“Watching the shaky phone video, it is clear that the child was understandably frightened and the gorilla understandably stressed, but in the video shown on the news websites, Harambe did not attack the child. He pulled the child through the water of the moat, at one point held his hand – apparently gently, stood him up and examined his clothing.
“The video is two minutes and 34 seconds long, however, and we are told the incident lasted some 10 minutes. Clearly if a silverback wanted to kill a child, he could do so in an instant. But he didn’t. It would seem that the danger was more to do with whether the boy might bang his head on a rock while being dragged.”
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