Zoo team decided boy’s life was in danger
Cincinnati Zoo in the US has temporarily closed its gorilla exhibit after a special zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla that grabbed a four-year-old boy who fell into a moat.
Zoo officials said the boy fell after he climbed through a public barrier at the Gorilla World exhibit on Saturday afternoon. He was picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes.
Authorities said the child, who has not been identified, fell about 4 metres. He was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, where he is expected to recover.
Zoo Director Thane Maynard said the zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided the boy was in “a lifethreatening situation” and that they needed to put down the 180kg-plus male gorilla named Harambe.
“They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life,” Maynard said. “It could have been very bad.”
But he mourned the loss of the gorilla, which came to Cincinnati in 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas.
“We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a criticallyendangered gorilla,” he said. “This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”
Two female gorillas were also in the enclosure when the boy fell in but zoo officials said only the male remained with the child.
Maynard said the gorilla didn’t appear to be attacking the child, but he said it was “an extremely strong” animal in an agitated situation. He said tranquilising the gorilla wouldn’t have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.
It was the first time that the team had killed a zoo animal in such an emergency situation, Maynard said. He called it “a very sad day” at the zoo.
The zoo was due to re-open yesterday but officials said the gorilla exhibit has been closed until further notice.
DRAMA: A zoo visitor filmed the incident on Saturday