Zoo Faces Backlash for Killing Gorilla to Save Boy

Protesters want 'Justice for Harambe'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2016 3:28 AM CDT
Zoo Faces Backlash for Killing Gorilla to Save Boy
A visitor with a small child passes outside the shuttered Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Sunday.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Did the gorilla have to die? The Cincinnati Zoo is facing an angry backlash for shooting Harambe, an endangered gorilla, dead after a 4-year-old boy fell in its enclosure Saturday, CNN reports. Protesters who accuse the zoo of using excessive force gathered outside the zoo Sunday and the #JusticeforHarambe movement has started a petition to have the boy's parents investigated for negligence. The zoo, however, says that while it is devastated by the death of the male western lowland gorilla, the boy was in imminent danger and tranquilizers would not have worked quickly enough. A witness says that after the boy fell 15 feet into in the enclosure, the gorilla seemed protective at first, but he became agitated as visitors screaming and started dragging the boy through a moat.

A witness tells CNN that to get into the enclosure when his mother was distracted, the boy had to "climb under something, through some bushes and then into the moat." He was released from a hospital on Saturday night and his parents issued a statement thanking the zoo and saying the boy is "doing just fine," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla," they said. The BBC notes that a similar incident in Britain in 1986 had a happier ending. When a 5-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure on the island of Jersey and fractured his skull, a male silverback named Jambo stood guard, stroking the boy and keeping other gorillas away until he was rescued. (More Cincinnati Zoo stories.)

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