A gorilla was shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo in the US after he dragged a four-year-old boy, who had fallen in, across the enclosure. The incident sparked an outcry on social media where many criticised the child's mother for not being vigilant.
Harambe, the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla who weighed over 400 pounds, was killed by zookeepers on Saturday after the boy slipped into the animal’s enclosure.
Amateur video footage captured by a visitor on her mobile phone showed Harambe drag the boy around his habitat for about ten minutes.
— TyreeBP (@TyreeBP) 29 Mays 2016
The gorilla was killed using lethal force after the zoo's dangerous animal response team deemed the situation life-threatening. The boy who fell into the enclosure’s moat, was hospitalised without major injuries and released the same day. The toddler’s family said, "he is home and doing just fine."
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard defended the zoo’s response to the incident saying the dangerous animal response team did not use tranquillizers, which take a few minutes to kick in, to subdue the animal due to the severity of the situation.
"The child was not under attack, but all sorts of things could happen," Maynard told CNN, adding "he [the toddler] certainly was at risk.”
However, the killing of the endangered gorilla to save the toddler has sparked a social media outcry.
Social media users are calling on the authorities to charge the parents with child neglect. According to the Independent, police in Ohio state, where Cincinnati is located, said the parents could face criminal charges.
A child climbs into a gorilla exhibit at the zoo. I have questions, not for the zoo or the gorilla, but for the parents.
— Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor) 29 Mays 2016
— Lee Hayes (@leehayespr) 29 Mays 2016
a poor gorilla died because some incompetent parents weren't watching their 4 year old child
— KEY-ANUH! (@kikihbuu) 30 Mays 2016
Sad to hear about Harambe the Gorilla at the #CincinnatiZoo. Hope the little boy is alright. NOT THE GORILLAS FAULT. PARENTS ARE ACCOUNTABLE
— Charles J. Tieman (@Cincy_Tieman) 29 Mays 2016
They should charge the irresponsible parents who let their kid fall into the Gorilla exhibit in the first place.
— PrincessRose (@RosaElena12) 30 Mays 2016
Others retorted the gorilla would make a better parent.
I've seen Tarzan. That gorilla was gonna raise that boy better than his own parents.
— Deon Eaglewood (@taytertottts) 29 Mays 2016
The Gorilla was doing a better job watching the little boy than the Mom was. Give the gorilla custody of the child
— (@SadderDre) 29 Mays 2016
— Brian Tague (@BrianTagueJr) 29 Mays 2016
The incident has resulted in more than 80,000 people having signed a petition on Change.org. Facebook page 'Justice for Harembe' has more than 32,000 signatures. The gorilla turned 17 on Friday.
— Tommie Sunshine (@tommiesunshine) 29 Mays 2016
Last week, two lions were killed after a young man jumped into their enclosure at the Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago de Chile.