Going Ape


Harambe (Photo Courtesy of mirror.co.uk)

On May 29th, an endangered silver back gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed in its exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo by park rangers. This tragedy occurred as park rangers tried to save a 4 year old boy after he fell into the enclosure.


The child became curious and crawled past the barricade and fell into a moat surrounding the enclosure housing Harambe, whose 17th birthday had been celebrated the day before. After video surfaced of this terrifying event, the gorilla could be seen dragging the boy around the moat by the leg with a speed and force that could have easily drowned him or cracked his skull. After contemplating all other options to try to save the boy, zoo officials decided that the only way to guarantee the safety of the child was to shoot Harambe. They decided against using a tranquilizer dart gun, since the drugs may not have taken effect immediately and may have instead enraged the gorilla and force it to act violently.


The aftermath of this event has been varied. The media brought this issue into the spotlight, and many now question why an animal had to die as a result of possibly parental neglect. Although there are some who support the zoo’s decision and express support for the family, there are also others who express angst and disgust at the zoo’s actions. They claim that the gorilla should not have been murdered because a parent failed to be responsible enough to ensure the safety of her own child, and as a result, they believe that the mother should be charged.


The boy’s family released a statement expressing their gratitude for the quick action of the zoo and remorse for the anger they may have caused. The mother states that she appreciates the support her and her family have received, and asks that any donations be given to the zoo instead of to her family. The boy escaped safely with only a few minor scrapes, cuts, and bruises, and the family has moved on from this scarring event. In response to this occurrence, the zoo has decided to raise the height of the enclosure, as well as take further precautionary measures to ensure the safety of its occupants. (LA Times). When asked about this event, Sidney Tran (11) said that “I do not know who is truly at fault here. All I can say is that what happened was a tragedy, and I am glad that the boy is okay.”