Re­mod­eled Cincin­nati zoo re­opens

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By REUTERS

Vis­i­tors flocked on Tues­day to the Cincin­nati Zoo the day after prose­cu­tors de­clined to charge the mother of a 3-yearold boy who fell into a go­rilla en­clo­sure, caus­ing zookeep­ers to kill the en­dan­gered an­i­mal to pro­tect the child.

Hun­dreds of people got their first look at the re­mod­eled en­clo­sure, which the zoo changed to pre­vent a re­peat of the May 28 in­ci­dent that led to the shoot­ing of the 17-year-old en­dan­gered western low­land sil­ver­back go­rilla Harambe to pre­vent harm to the child.

Emily But­ler, 40, from Florence, Ken­tucky, who was vis­it­ing with her 8- and 11-year-old sons and other fam­ily, called Harambe’s death “sad all the way around,” but said they were ex­cited to be at the habi­tat’s re­open­ing.

“I was con­cerned they might close the ex­hibit al­to­gether,” she said. “This is the one place in Cincin­nati we’ve al­ways come to spend time with our kids.”

The zoo re­opened the go­rilla en­clo­sure on Tues­day with a new bar­rier that is six inches (15.24 cm) higher at 3-1/2 feet (1 me­ter). It switched ma­te­ri­als to a solid wood beam on top and knot­ted rope net­ting on the bot­tom from a stain­less steel rail­ing with hor­i­zon­tal ca­bles. The zoo also added three sur­veil­lance cam­eras.

Harambe was shot by zoo staff in the min­utes after the boy fell. The an­i­mal’s death touched off a storm of crit­i­cism aimed at both the zoo and the boy’s mother, 32-yearold preschool ad­min­is­tra­tor Michelle Gregg, who lo­cal prose­cu­tors on Mon­day de­clined to crim­i­nally charge, say­ing she did not place her son in dan­ger.

Some crit­ics had called for Gregg to be charged with reck­less en­dan­ger­ment. The boy suf­fered a con­cus­sion and some scrapes but es­caped se­ri­ous in­jury.

One an­i­mal rights group said Tues­day the re­mod­eled habi­tat es­sen­tially proved the faulty na­ture of the pre­vi­ous en­clo­sure.

“It is en­tirely pos­si­ble that if this bar­rier had been in place by Satur­day, May 28, Harambe might be alive to­day,” Michael Bud­kie, co-founder of Stop An­i­mal Ex­ploita­tion Now (SAEN), said in a state­ment.

On Mon­day, Bud­kie’s group, which has been crit­i­cal of the zoo since the go­rilla shoot­ing, filed a sec­ond com­plaint with the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, charg­ing the zoo is vi­o­lat­ing fed­eral law by mis­treat­ing other an­i­mals.

USDA spokes­woman Tanya Espinosa said the agency, al­ready in­ves­ti­gat­ing the zoo after the pre­vi­ous com­plaint, had re­ceived the new com­plaint and would look into it.

SAEN last month filed a com­plaint ac­cus­ing the zoo of neg­li­gence in main­tain­ing the go­rilla habi­tat and seek­ing the max­i­mum penalty of $10,000.

It is en­tirely pos­si­ble that if this bar­rier had been in place by May 28 Harambe might be alive to­day.”

WIL­LIAM PHILPOTT / REUTERS

The Cincin­nati Zoo’s Go­rilla World ex­hibit re­opens on Tues­day after a boy tum­bled into its moat May 28. Of­fi­cials were forced to kill the go­rilla Harambe.

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