In an unfortunate event in the Cincinnati Zoo, a rare gorilla has been shot and killed by zookeepers in response to the event of a four year old boy was said to have slipped inside of the animal’s enclosure. Some video footage surfaced online showing the encounter between the little boy and the gorilla, stirring some rage among critics who called the event an unnecessary kill of an endangered animal, and placing the blame on the boy’s parents and accusing them of child neglect while blaming the zookeepers for calling the killshot.
According to CNN, the kid was taken to the hospital after the incident and was released in a later time on Saturday evening. The family later released the following statement through a public relations firm:
“We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.”
In response to the speculation of whether a killshot was necessary to handle the situation, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden Thane Maynard has mentioned in a statement that “Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes, and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” and that a quick decision had to be made. (CNN) Read more at: Was shooting a rare gorilla the only option for Cincinnati Zoo?
However, the statements did not stop people from showing their rage on the internet, calling the incident ‘inhumane’ and that it could have been avoided if the parents had paid more attention to their child.
Let’s try to analyze this situation a little bit. So far it is still vague how the child ended up in the gorilla’s enclosure to begin with. And although I agree that parents should always maintain an eye on their children especially in environments which they do not have much control of, it’s also fair to say that we are not perfect creatures and accidents do happen. Now let’s get to the part after the kid ended up in the gorilla’s enclosure. I am not an animal expert, but after watching the videos it appears to me like the gorilla has become agitated as people were screaming and shouting, which I guess was because people tend to lose logical thinking when nervous. This may have lead to the final part where the gorilla has been shot and killed. Again I am not an animal expert, but my little knowledge of tranquilizers tells me that the effects tend to differ from one case to another depending on several elements, and there’s a good chance that the animal will be antagonized and display violent behaviour before the tranquilizers effects kick in.
Another thing worth mentioning is that people tend to think differently of how they would handle a situation when they are outside of the picture than being under pressure where every fraction of the second counts. And this is where training and experience take place. According to CNN, Ian Redmond, chairman of The Gorilla Organization has stated that “When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know and negotiate with them,” (CNN)
I honestly don’t know if this situation could have been avoided or not because I was not there nor do I have the required experience to make that statement, however I am pretty sure that this tragic incident can be used as a model to learn from in order to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. In addition to that, I have never been a huge fan of zoos to begin with as I believe that animals should be able to live free in their natural habitat. After all, I doubt that the gorilla asked to be put for display eventually be shot to death for it.