Gorilla Killed to Save a Child Who Fell Into a Zoo Enclosure

A 4-year-old boy had a terrifying experience after slipping past a safety barrier.

  • Gorilla
  • An accident at Cincinnati Zoo has resulted in a dead gorilla, a frightened and injured child, and a lot of angry people online.

    A young gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed by zoo workers after a 4-year-old boy got past the safety barrier of the enclosure and fell ten feet into a moat, according to the New York Times:

    “It was pure panic,” said Brittany Nicely, 29, who was there with her two children.

    Ms. Nicely said that out of the corner of her eye she spotted the boy on the wrong side of wooden and wire barriers along the edge of the enclosure. She reached for him, she said, but not in time, and he fell about 10 feet into a shallow moat.

    Harambe, a teenage western lowland gorilla, then grabbed the child, but his intentions were not clear. At times, he stood over the boy in what appeared to be a protective posture. But then he darted across the water, dragging the child roughly by the arm.

    “He wasn’t throwing him around,” Ms. Nicely said. “He wasn’t mauling him to death, which is what I thought was going to happen.”

    The terrifying scene was caught on video by alarmed onlookers, who worried the gorilla might accidentally crush the boy before they could get him out.

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  • The zoo later said it was a difficult decision to kill Harambe, but a tranquilizer dart might have taken too long to kick in. “We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”

    Many people online are upset about the story, and even blaming the boy’s mother for not keeping her son out of danger.

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