Many Seek “Justice For Harambe” After Gorilla Is Killed To Protect Child Who Entered Enclosure

34BF5B5D00000578-3615783-Some_said_Harambe_appeared_to_be_guarding_and_defending_the_boy_-a-9_1464591377443We recently discussed the tragedy in Chile where a man sought to commit suicide by jumping into a lion enclosure at the zoo — resulting in two lions being shot and killed to protect him. Now in Cincinnati, a parent failed to properly supervise her 4-year-old son who fell into gorilla enclosure. Even though the lowland gorilla did not seem to be trying to hurt the child, he was nevertheless killed to guarantee the safety of the child. Many commentators have called for the parents to be prosecuted for the loss of Harambe.

The four-year-old boy was hospitalized after the incident.

The Cincinnati police, along with the fire department, responded to the call of a boy falling into the enclosure. First responders reported that they “witnessed a gorilla … violently dragging and throwing the child.”

They decided to kill Harambe even though some insisted that the rare western lowland gorilla seemed to be protecting the child.

Lt. Steve Saunders, spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department, said no charges have been brought against the child’s parents. However, zoo officials have not yet spoken with the family of the child who fell into the habitat. Witnesses said that the boy kept saying that he wanted to go into the enclosure.

There could still be both criminal and civil liability. Even if the parents are not deemed to have acted criminally, there still remains the question of whether the parents should be financially liable for negligence leading to the death of this rare gorilla.

25 thoughts on “Many Seek “Justice For Harambe” After Gorilla Is Killed To Protect Child Who Entered Enclosure”

  1. The Gorillas are breed mostly by artificial insemination and they had Semen from this Gorilla. Causing harm to animals to possibly protect others is questionable as very little or any of the Entertainment dollars do that. There is much going on at the zoos that the public is shielded. The zoos are over breeding animals and not returning them to the wild. Often they are sold to captive hunts. Even the lauded San Diego zoo was caught doing that. Zoos teach a disrespect for animals at a deep level while pretending to be their saviour. There was a day they were arguably needed to connect people with nature. Technology provides a better experience. If we are learning from zoos, it is time we use the knowledge and shut them down. There are better ways to raise money…..if nothing else, PETA has demonstrated that.

  2. Given that every Gorilla expert not connected to the zoo clearly stated the Gorilla was protecting the boy, I would say the zoo was trying to avoid a lawsuit. There is no need for zoos today. They show the behavior of a captured animal. Many are on stress reducing drugs.Especially those of higher cognition. Documentaries do a far better job showing the animals in their own environment and behaviors. Zoos today are about the entertainment dollar. Rehabilitation centers would provide all the “research” needed.

    1. Michael Blott:

      I agree with most of what you’re saying, but the bottom line is this: the likelihood of great bodily harm to the child was present, even (and perhaps more so with “displaced aggression”) if they tried to tranquilize Harambe, no matter whether Harambe was trying to protect the child. The issue become a moral/ethical one. Do you protect the human’s cousin in a society of humans or do you protect cousin Harambe? Not an easy choice.

      If that child had died, would your argument be that a four-year old assumed the risk?

      And the entertainment dollar provides a lot of money for captive breeding of that endangered species that would otherwise be unavailable. Apparently, at 17, Harambe stll wasn’t even mature enough to breed. So, while one waits for him to mature, how does one afford to feed and protect him? Money doesn’t grow on trees.

  3. Cages matter. We all know what happened to the Lawyer in Jurassic Park.

  4. It does appear that Harambe was protecting the child at first, and even held the boy’s hand, and then felt threatened by the throng of idiot soccer moms’ screams above the enclosure. The boy’s mother provided creative assistance (“try to stay calm” or something to that effect while her cohorts acted like they’d run out of valium) after letting the child wander off and under the fence. Harambe did drag the child violently, not that he was doing it to harm the child. It also appears the child lay unconscious on the edge of the moat after being dragged through the moat..

    I was very impressed with the Zoo’s director’s articulate comments. They could not sedate Harambe because the initial shot might have put him into an even more heightened state resulting in harm to the child. (And if 400lbs. decided to fall on the child as he dozed off?) Further, that panicked state could last a while until the drug took effect. He also said the boy was lucky he didn’t fall the 10-12 feet and land on his head in the moat.

    I highly doubt Cincinnati will charge the mother. I imagine if the City brings charges or whoever owns the zoo sues there’ll be a crossclaim for failure to protect based on the ease with which the child got through the fence. I don’t imagine the City or zoo owners will bring this to court, but I bet the parents of the child will visit their options.

    The mother is a suburban moron.

  5. Close all zoos. Leave some land for wild animals to roam free. Respecting the lives and welfare of others often requires that we leave them alone.

  6. The mother was negligent and most likely stupid. The zoo was negligent in allowing access that a kid could take advantage of that quickly and that easily. This is just a convergence of two incompetent conditions. The kid just as easily could have been hit by a car in the parking lot with that mother under similar circumstances, too many kids to take care of.

    As seemingly impossible as it is, the zoo should be able to create an air tight barrier around animals, for the sake of the animals, not humans. Zoos are disgusting. These animals, if it is found necessary to keep them in captivity, should be given ‘game farm’ conditions, not the likes provided by most zoos.

  7. The father has multiple felony convictions and recently did time for drug sales.

  8. please invest in spell check. that a tenured professor publishes articles with such horrible misspelling and bad grammar is a disgrace.

  9. Are you kidding me Johnathan?! No parent can watch their children 100% of the time, and if every parent got arrested for every accident that happened during those short periods of time that they were unsupervised, then there would BE no parents in the world!

    Besides, the zoo has already come out and backed the parents up.

  10. The last time a child fell into a gorilla enclosure, the male gorilla protected it from the rest of the group. It stayed with the child, gently stroking it, until the child could be rescue. Usually when things get in the enclosure that the gorillas are not supposed to have, the staff go in an trade them the item for fresh fruit or something they like.

    Supposedly the mother had a group of several kids with her and this one wanted to go in the enclosure. Mom told him no and moved on with the group. Having worked with groups of kids at the zoo, I can tell you they can get away from you.

  11. As I stated in my previous posting about the doctor getting shot in Saudi Arabia: we don’t need no muslim refugees sent to Cincinnati with rifles. But here I blame the mother for not jumping down into the water and retrieving the kid. And if daddy poo was there then he should have gone after the kid too. When the kid grows up he can donate some lunch money to the zoo. There is no need for a zoo in Cincinnati. We have the Reds. People can go watch them. They too should stay off the field and up in the seating.

  12. The child wasn’t under attack. In fact, the video shows the gorilla holding the boy’s hand as the boy is sitting quietly and looking up at him. It’s sickening that they killed this endangered animal because what it “might” have done, rather than what it actually did. The child’s parents should be heavily fined for their negligence, and any amounts collected via civil fine or forfeiture should go directly to the Cincinnati Zoo.

  13. I suspect more particulars about the shooting will be released in time. It is probable the gorilla became more agitated and taking him out became increasingly necessary.

    A prosecutor is unlikely to bring a criminal charge against the parent. The child is legally incapable of criminal liability due to his age thus, a form of criminal negligence could be argued against the mother, it would remain only theoretical since it would be very bad PR to charge the mother of a boy who suffered this fate with a crime, or the zoo to press criminal charges against the mother. If it went that far I doubt a jury would convict and the prosecutor has enough of a caseload to not want to bother.

    Now, if this was an older teenager or an adult that did such a stunt it would be prudent for the zoo to press a criminal trespass against the offender to help shield the zoo from civil liability. Plus, an adult certainly would know better. The article earlier featuring the suicide patient who entered the lion cage, a mental defect or insanity defense is available.

    The mother and the zoo certainly don’t want a tort filed against them, it is arguable that both could face considerable costs, but if one filed a claim it would I suppose elicit a reciprocal response.

    Animals as we all know are unpredictable I wouldn’t have risked the child for the sake of a gorilla. The tranquilizer is not effective in bringing down a gorilla immediately and having the child in close proximity who knows what could have transpired, especially given a silverback’s mass and formidability.

    Anecdotally, a friend of mine responded to a collision between a bear and a pickup. The injured bear was on the hard shoulder of the highway and seemed to be unconscious but alive. He needed to put the bear down so, due to the animal’s size, he pointed a 12 gauge shotgun at the bear’s head and shot it with 00 buckshot. Instead of dying quickly, the bear came to life and went ballistic; standing on its back legs and went after my friend and the driver. It wasn’t until the bear took a hit from a slug that it finally went down. I don’t know what was used on this gorilla, but if a decision was to take it out you want to incapacitate it instantly, wounding it might serve only to enrage the animal and since the child is the most proximate to him, he might exact his revenge against the boy. If the boy is then intertwined with the gorilla a second shot might miss and hit the child.

    Remember, this is just an animal. I would rather live with the memory of shooting an animal than be guilt ridden for life because I hesitated too long to give the animal the benefit of the doubt and watched the boy be savagely killed.

  14. Even though the gorilla did not seem to be trying to hurt the child? As usual, an uninformed jump to conclusions by JT, as evidenced by the obvious lack of a complete and solid grasp as to what actually transpired. It was determined, by professionals, who do nothing but work with these animals, on a daily basis, that the gorilla was acting in an extremely aggressive and dangerous manner with the child. Other gorillas, by the way, in the enclosure, were summoned by their keepers to retreat, which they did, instantaneously. Harambe, however, refused to do so, and it was feared that any attempt to shoot him with some sort of tranquilizer would only further enrage him, thus placing the child in even more danger by this 300 pound animal, given the time that it would take to actually incapacitate the gorilla. This was a split second decision, which needed to be made. No one rejoices at the killing of this gorilla. It, unfortunately, needed to be done. Those who argue that it was unnecessary are out of touch and ill-informed as to the immense danger faced by this young child. I would rather see a dead gorilla than a dead child. JT also fails to mention the possible culpability of the zoo, itself, for creating and building an enclosure so easily breached by a determined four year old child, assuming that’s what actually occurred in this situation. If this child, of his own volition and without assistance, was capable of penetrating this enclosure, I would find the zoo culpable, as well, for not building a more suitable and safe habitat to contain these animals. Ideally, there should’ve been a second set of barriers–another fence–which could’ve avoided the occurrence of just such an episode. The child would’ve only made it to that second protective barrier and not fallen into the pit. The zoo, in my opinion, is not blameless, but it’s not because the gorilla needed to be killed.

  15. @Steven – it depends on your view of the situation. The gorilla was shielding the kid by interposing himself between the child and the noisy crowd. Maybe he wasn’t gentle with the kid by human standards, but the kid was mostly unharmed during the incident. The gorilla seemed to be trying to get the kid away from the screaming crowd.

  16. This is the most uninformed article yet on this situation. The gorilla was dragging the young boy through the water, sometimes at high speed. One can argue about the decision to shoot the male gorilla but p, please, his behavior was in no way ‘protecting’ the boy.

Comments are closed.