Sports Media Joins Explosive Debate Over Shooting Of Gorilla At Cincinnati Zoo
After Saturday night's thrilling Game 6 between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Klay Thompson's 11 three-pointers would be the talk of Twitter for the majority of the day. But while it has definitely been on people's radar, it's been the tragic death of Harambe the gorilla that has dominated the social media debate table.
On Saturday, a four-year-old boy climbed through the enclosure and fell into the gorilla exhibit visiting the Cincinnati Zoo with his family. The boy fell about 15 feet, landing in the enclosure where he was approached by Harambe, a 450 lb. male Western lowland silverback gorilla.
In a video taken by an onlooker, Harambe appears to behave very gently with the child. But according to onlookers and some of the caretakers, the increased screams from the visitors above began to agitate and unnerve the gorilla, who eventually begins to drag the child through the water; presumably to escape the attention from above.
"I don't know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group," Kim O'Connor, who shot the video, told NBC affiliate WLWT.
The 4-year-old was in the enclosure with the gorilla for more than 10 minutes before he was rescued and brought to Cincinnati Children's Hospital with serious but non-fatal injuries and was released from the hospital on Saturday. Harambe's fate was not nearly as lucky, as he was fatally shot during the rescue.
As you can imagine, this entire situation has left most people pondering and debating three important questions:
- How did the parents lose sight of their child and allow him to climb through?
- How was the security around the enclosure able to be breached by a 4-year-old child?
- Was it necessary for the zoo to fatally shoot the critically endangered animal in order to ensure the life of the child?
People on Twitter were unsurprisingly ready and willing to weigh in, including many prominent members of the media.
The jury is still out on all of it, but the outrage over the loss of Harambe has been significant. It's fairly obvious at this point that Harambe had no intentions of attacking the child, as even the zoo director Thane Maynard agreed that it didn't appear he displayed any intention to harm him.
"This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide," Maynard said. "The zoo's in the business of taking care of endangered animals, and we don't want to be in the situation in which they have to be killed. Harambe was a good guy," Maynard added before going on to explain that the gorilla didn't appear to be attacking the boy but that he was in an "agitated situation" and "extremely strong."
Personally, I've seen the video** and it's almost impossible to argue that Harambe had any intention at all of hurting the kid. I think we can all agree that if a 450 lb. gorilla wanted to kill a 30 lb. human, there wouldn't be much time for guess work. Of course, intentions are only part of the equation when we're talking about an innocent child and an animal large enough to crush an adult human skull like a Junior Mint.
The fact of the matter is that once the boy was inside the gorilla exhibit, the situation became lose-lose. Had the zoo reacted in a way that resulted in the death or serious injury of a four-year-old child, there would've been no coming back from that either. The biggest issue is that after all is said and done, this situation appears to have been incredibly preventable from top to bottom; beginning with the parents and the zoo doing a better job, and ending with a better protocol for evacuating onlookers from the enclosure and saving the life of the animal and the child.
Here is the edited video footage aired by WLWT which shows the calmer moments between Harambe and the boy.
**Below is another clip of some of the video. Please be advised that it does show the child being dragged through the water, which may be disturbing to some readers and viewers.
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