The internet has been ablaze with hot takes and questions over the handling of the Cincinnati Zoo’s killing of their endangered western lowland gorilla when a 4-year-old boy fell into its enclosure. It’s easy to look back in retrospect and blame the family and the zoo, but at the time, there was a child in the arms of a 450-pound male gorilla, thrashing him about, and things looked dire. So a call was made, and the zoo chose to put down the animal.
Zoo Director Thane Maynard took to Facebook to explain that the zoo’s tranquilizers may not have worked in time, and could’ve even made the gorilla far more aggressive, endangering the child further.
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”
Famed Zoologist Jack Hanna comes in as a voice of reason and agrees with the zoo’s actions. He analyzed the video and believed the expert opinion of putting down the gorilla was the only choice to make. He also spoke to CBS to articulate his view on the terrible situation.
“They made the correct decision. Matter of fact, it’s a millisecond decision. All of us are sorry. We’re all, in the zoo world, heartfelt for this whole thing but thank goodness a human being is alive today because of the decision that the zoo made.
You hear the screaming going on. Watch that gorilla’s response … he hears the response, you can see from the face now he’s alarmed…” Hanna said, analyzing the video. “I know that dart hits the animal… it’s like a shot but he jumps like this. What would happen if he had a hold of that little boy?”
The last thing the zoo, who has dedicated time, money and manpower (not to mention zoologists who love these animals) wants to do is put one down. They also cannot stand by idly as a wild animal grips a young child whose life is in danger. Nothing good could come from this situation.