Harambe the gorilla will live on, thanks to science (video below).
The gorilla was shot dead after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, which touched off controversy over everything from animal rights to parental responsibility. But no amount of arguing would undo the tragedy that befell the beloved gorilla.
However, there is a silver lining. After Harambe's death, zoo personnel were able to remove sperm from his body, which could be used to artificially inseminate a female gorilla and give more hope to the endangered species.
"There’s a future," Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden director Thane Maynard said, according to Cincinnati.com. "It’s not the end of his gene pool.”
Harambe was a Western lowland gorilla, of which there are only about 175,000 in the world. Naturally found in the rain forests of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, the number of these gorillas has declined by more than 60 per cent over the last 20 to 25 years, according to the Daily Mail.
Born in captivity in Texas, Harambe was brought to the Cincinnati Zoo to be part of a breeding program to repopulate the species. But at only 17, Harambe had yet to reach his mature breeding stage. That made getting Harambe's sperm even more significant, reported Cincinnati.com.
Many have criticized the zoo for shooting Harambe, but Cincinnati Zoo director Thomas Maynard defended the actions his staff took.
“This child was being dragged around and his head was banging on the concrete. This was not a gentle thing,” Maynard said. “We did not take the shooting lightly. But that child's life was in danger and people who question that, or are Monday morning quarterbacks or second-guessers, don't understand that you can't take a risk with a silverback gorilla.”
Maynard explained that using a tranquilizer was not an option because the gorilla could have become agitated and pose an even greater danger to the child.
“Looking back, we would make the same decision. We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made,” Maynard said.