An eyewitness to the infamous shooting of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure defended the mother of the child, saying it was all just a "terrible accident" and the mother was "not negligent."
Deidre Lykins was visiting the Cincinnati Zoo with her husband and children when she saw the boy fall into the gorilla enclosure.
“I looked down and to my surprise there was a small child that had literally 'flopped' over the railing where there was then about 3 feet of ground that [he] quickly crawled through,” Lykins wrote on Facebook.
Michelle Gregg, the mother of the boy, has received widespread criticism, with many online commentators blaming her for what they consider the senseless killing of an endanger animal. The gorilla, Harambe, is a western lowland gorilla, of which only around 100,000 exist in the world, according to the World Wildlife Federation.
Gregg told Lykins she was taking a picture and her son's hand was in her back pocket when he suddenly disappeared, reported the Daily Mail. When she couldn't find him, she feared the worst.
Lykins' husband, David, was already over the railing and about to go down into the enclosure to save the boy.
“Sir, is he wearing green shorts?"Gregg asked.
“My husband reluctantly had to tell her 'yes' and she then nearly had a breakdown,” Lykins wrote.
“They were both wanting to go over into the 15ft drop [but] I forbade my husband to do so. I then attempted to calm the mother by calling 911 and assure her help was on the way.”
Lykins continued: “Neither my husband or the mother would have made that jump without breaking something! I wasn't leaving with my boys, because I didn't trust my husband not to jump in and the gorilla did just seem to be protective of the child.”
As the families waited for help, they were terrified that the gorilla might hurt or even kill the child.
“It was very violent. Although I think the gorilla was still trying to protect, we're talking a 400 pound gorilla throwing a 40 pound toddler around. It was horrific!” Lykins wrote.
As for laying blame, Lykins said there isn't any.
“This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation.”