Barrier to gorilla exhibit entered by boy ineffective
CINCINNATI: Federal inspectors concluded that the Cincinnati Zoo’s barrier to keep the public and gorillas separate wasn’t in compliance with standards for housing primates when a 3-year-old boy slipped into their exhibit, resulting in the shooting death of an endangered gorilla named Harambe. The US Agriculture Department inspection report, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, also stated that the zoo’s dangerous-animal response team properly followed procedures after visitors called 911 on May 28 to report a child in the gorilla enclosure. A team member concluded the child was in “life-threatening danger.” The death of the 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla led to mourning around the globe and a storm of criticism and unending social media attention. The zoo quickly made the barrier taller and added nylon mesh and surveillance cameras. The zoo said there had been no previous problems in the Gorilla World exhibit’s 38-year history and its barriers were always found compliant in earlier federal inspections, including in April. The federal investigation is continuing and could lead to fines or other disciplinary action. The department’s animal welfare arm confirmed that the zoo’s barrier system had been considered to be in compliance during earlier inspections.
CINCINNATI: In this file photo, a visitor touches a picture of Harambe, a male silverback gorilla, at a makeshift memorial outside the Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden in Cincinnati.