After the shooting and death of Harambe, the silverback gorilla that was dragging the little boy who had fallen into its enclosure, there’s been an outcry from animal lovers and activists as well as from the general public.
Animal lovers argue that the gorilla was not at fault and shouldn’t have lost his life because a certain mother didn’t watch her child.
Many of the Facebook comments on the trending story are condemning the mother who didn’t watch her child closely enough.
However, it’s easy to forget how unpredictable little kids are, especially at this age.
How many parents can say that they’ve never turned their heads for what seems like a few seconds, only to find that their child had simply vanished?
Yes, the child did insist that they wanted to get into the gorilla’s enclosure; that didn’t mean that the mother actually believe he was capable of doing it.
The death of Harambe was tragic, and we all wish it could have been avoided.
But the risk was too high, especially considering how strong a gorilla is.
Celebrities and activists, even politicians weighed in on the issue.
Jane Goodall wrote to the zoo director Thayne Maynard, saying:
“I feel so sorry for you, having to try to defend something which you may well disapprove of. I tried to see exactly what was happening — it looked like the gorilla was putting an arm around the child — like the female who rescued and returned the child from the Chicago exhibit.
Anyway, whatever, it is a devastating loss to the zoo, and to the gorillas. Are they allowed to see, and express grief, which is so important.
Feeling for you,
Here are some facts shared by an ex-zookeeper who worked closely with gorillas for years:
An adult male gorilla weighing about 400 pounds is about 10 times stronger than a human adult.
In terms of danger, gorillas are listed as a Class 1 animal, along with bears, lions, tigers and other apes.
This means that even one wrong move, however unintentional, would have killed the little boy.
When cleaning up gorilla’s enclosures, zookeepers NEVER get in the same space as the gorillas.
There is always a welded mesh fence between them and the animals.
Even after working with these animals for years, zookeepers never get in the same space with them. It’s as simple as that.
A lot of people claimed that the gorilla was trying to protect the kid.
After examining the video, the zookeeper insisted that Harambe’s body language did not indicate that, based on his posture and tight lips.
The gorilla reached for the boy’s arms and hands but not to protect him; this was for his own display purposes.
Apparently, when the y feel threatened, gorillas create ellaborate displays moving around branches and other heavy objects.
It is very likely that Harambe felt threatened by the noise caused by the people who were screaming at him, trying to separate him from the boy.
The zoo personnel tried to use treats to get Harambe to move away from the exhibit. The other animals responded to the treats but not Harambe.
Many people suggested using tranquilizers; however, their effect is not instant and it’s likely that the boy would have gotten hurt as a result.
The gorilla would have likely drowned in the water, and possibly crushed the kid under his weight.
However sad and tragic, the killing of Harambe was chosen in order to protect a human life.
Is it fair? Not for Harambe. He did not choose to be in that zoo, and definitely didn’t choose to become a target by following his instincts and curiosity and going close to the child.
Hopefully this tragedy (which could have been much worse) will serve as a prompt for new and improved safety regulations in zoo exhibits. Hopefully this will also result in increased efforts to protect these animals that we share a planet with…. at least for the time being.