A gorilla was shot dead at a Cincinnati, Ohio, zoo after a 4-year-old boy got into its pit. New video seems to show the gorilla trying to hold the boy's hand as it tried to protect him.
The gorilla, named Harambe, was shot and killed by zoo officials after the boy climbed through a railing and fell into a moat at the Cincinnati Zoo. Fire Department officials said the gorilla was “violently dragging and throwing the child” when a response team was dispatched.
“The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to...get in the water. The mother’s like ‘No, you're not, you’re not,’” one witness said, according to Daily Mail.
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The boy was in between the animal’s legs when it was shot dead, WLWT reported.
“It's a sad day all around,” zoo director Thane Maynard said. “They made a tough choice and they made the right choice, because they saved that little boy's life. It could have been very bad."
Three gorillas were reportedly in the enclosure when the boy fell in. Two were called out immediately but Harambe remained in the yard. Witnesses said the child was conscious during the terrifying ordeal. The gorilla was not tranquilized because if they are agitated the effects of tranquilizers do not always take immediate effect.
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“Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” Maynard told WHIO.
Response to the situation on social media was mainly anger, directed toward the child’s family. Many criticized their inability to protect their son from getting in to the gorilla’s enclosure.
“So a beautiful, innocent gorilla has to die because neglectful parents can't control their kids? Mankind sucks :( #Harambe #CincinnatiZoo,” one person wrote on Twitter.
The family later released a statement following the backlash.
“We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla,” the statement read, New York Daily News reported.