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Mother Of Boy Who Fell Into Gorilla Pit Defends Herself

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The Mother of the 4-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend is standing her ground as far as her parenting skills are concerned.  

According to People, Michelle Gregg claimed in a now-deleted Facebook post that, "God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him.  My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries."  

She continued on:  "As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids.  Accidents happen…" she wrote.  

There was an uproar on social media after the shooting death of Harambe, an adult male silverback gorilla. He was shot by Cincinnati Zoo officials after Gregg's child fell into the gorilla pit. 

The Cincinnati Zoo released its own statement from park director Thane Maynard, claiming that "we are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team."  

According to "Good Morning America," zoo officials claim that Harambe picked up the boy and carried him around the enclosure while "violently dragging and throwing the child."  

But according to onlooker Brittany Nicely, the gorilla was acting much more peacefully toward the child than zoo officials let on.  "The little boy, once he fell, I don't think the gorilla even knew that he was in there until he heard him splashing in the water," she told ABC News.  

"The gorilla rushed the boy, but did not hit the boy," continued Nicely.  "He almost was guarding the boy, was protecting him."  

The boy was hospitalized shortly after the incident, and released thereafter.  According to the Gregg family, the boy is "home and doing just fine."  

According to zoo officials, shooting Harambe with a tranquilizer dart was not an option given that "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." 

Animal lovers are outraged by the incident, claiming the zoo acted inappropriately in killing Harambe, and that the mother of the boy bears responsibility for his death. 

Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, responded to the outrage with a defense of the zoo's decision to put the animal down.  "I've seen him take a green coconut, which you can't bust open with a sledgehammer, [and] squish it like this," Hanna told "Good Morning America," gesturing with his hand how easily gorillas can crush the fruit.  "You're dealing with either human life or animal life here. So what is the decision?  I think it's very simple to figure that out."  

"I can tell you now," Hanna continued, "that there's no doubt in my mind the child would not be here today if they hadn't made that decision." 

Harambe's death has ignited a furious debate over whether or not animals should be kept in zoos in the first place.  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has reportedly released a statement which reads, in part: 

"Gorillas are self aware.  They love, laugh, sing, play, and grieve.  Western lowland gorillas are gentle animals.  They don't attack unless they're provoked."  

Animal activists have started an online petition called "Justice for Harambe."  If the petition reaches 150,000 signatures, it will be sent to the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and Cincinnati Police to encourage legal action against Gregg.  

Sources: People, Good Morning America, ABC News / Photo credit: ABC News via Yahoo!

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