Ken Ham, who runs the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, said on May 31 that employees at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden were right to kill a gorilla after a 3-year-old boy fell into the animal's enclosure, claiming the gorilla was sin cursed.
The head of the zoo admitted the gorilla did not attack the boy during the May 28 incident, and videos show the 400-pound animal, Harambe, acting in what appears to be a protective manner.
Still, the zoo thought it was best to shoot the gorilla based on what could have happened, causing outrage on social media.
Ham, a Christian who believes the earth is about 2,000 years old, wrote on his Answers In Genesis blog that no one from his staff witnessed the incident, but said that "the zoo professionals involved made the best decision they could, given the circumstances."
Ham went on to offer his Biblical perspective by citing verses from the Old Testament about how man has dominion over the animals, and how humans are made in the image of God, while animals are not.
"...When deciding what to do in a situation where a human being, made in God’s image, is in the control of a sin-cursed animal with no sense of human morality, we must do all we can to protect the child from harm," Ham said.
Ham, who has yearly passes to the zoo, also tried to link the gorilla shooting to abortion.
"It’s also a reminder to me of the people who complain about an animal dying but inconsistently support or condone the murdering of 58 million children by abortion in America since Roe v. Wade!," he wrote.
Frans de Waal, a leading primatologist, weighed in on the controversy surrounding the gorilla's death in a May 30 op-ed for AlterNet:
I got the impression that Harambe was mostly protective. He showed a combination of protection and confusion. He stood over the child, held him up, moved/dragged him through the water (at least once very roughly), stood over him again. Much of his reaction may have been triggered by public noise and yelling.
De Waal added that people who say gorillas are dangerous predators are "entirely wrong:"
A gorilla doesn’t look at a human child as something edible. The species is not interested in catching moving objects, the way cats are. Lions or tigers are predators, but gorillas are peaceful vegetarians. They prefer a juicy fruit over a piece of meat any time of the day.
De Waal said male gorillas typically only become aggressive if they see another male gorilla getting to close to a female or young gorillas. She also noted that zoo staff could have tried to lure the gorilla away with fruit, or even exchanged food for the child, because gorillas understand this type of barter.
Another possibility would have been to shoot a tranquilizer at Harambe, but de Waal, like the zoo, said this could have upset the powerful beast.
De Waal concluded that he's not exactly sure what he would have done, and said his decision would have depended on the information he was given at the time.