Video: Critically Endangered Gorilla Shot On-Site After Boy Falls Into His Cage at Cincinnati Zoo

(EnviroNews World News) — A critically endangered 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed on-site at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 28, 2016, after a four-year-old boy fell into the gorilla pen and was dragged around by the creature. Investigators think the incident transpired after the child climbed through a railing barrier and fell about 10 feet into the exhibit’s mote.

The boy, whose name has not been released to the media, was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for minor injuries obtained from the fall.

Witnesses had heard the lad asking his mother if he could enter the cage to play in the water just before the accident occurred. Kim O’Connor, an eyewitness to the event, said she overheard the mother, who was watching several other children as well, tell the boy, “No, you’re not, no, you’re not.” Apparently, the little tike was not willing to take “no” for an answer. A few moments later, the boy was in Harambe’s home.

For reasons unknown, Harambe swooped the boy up and toed him back and forth through the water in the mote for a few minutes as horrified onlookers screeched, screamed and scuttled.

If one thing is clear from watching bystander-videos, it’s that Harambe did not attack or attempt to hurt the child. At one point, it even looks like he’s trying to help him pull up his pants.

O’Connor felt the already-tense situation may have been further inflamed because of how bystanders reacted to the event. “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,” she said.

Within a few minutes, the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team was on the scene and made a quick decision to shoot and kill the animal.

Harambe -- Western Lowland Gorilla

Harambe — Western Lowland Gorilla

Zoo Director Thane Maynard supported the team’s decision stating in a press conference, “They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life.”

“You’re talking about an animal that’s over 400 pounds and extremely strong. So no, the child wasn’t under attack but all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that. He certainly was at risk,” Director Thane continued.

Maynard did express regret they had to kill an endangered gorilla, and told members of the press they had hoped to use Harambe for breeding.

Animal rights activists and wildlife enthusiasts have taken to lambasting the mother of the boy in social media posts, blaming her for not keeping better watch over her kid, even going so far as to say she is responsible for the “murder” of Harambe. Interestingly, few have pointed the blame at the zoo for the bummer episode.

If one thing is for certain, it’s that everybody in this story loses in the end — the mother, the boy, the zoo, the terrified bystanders, and certainly the dead gorilla all lost at the end of the day.

POLL: Did The Cincinnati Zoo Really Need To Shoot And Kill Harambe The Gorilla? Yes/No?

(EnviroNews Polls) – Cincinnati, Ohio – A very stick situation went down on May 28, 2016, for the Cincinnati Zoo’s Dangerous Wildlife Team when they were forced to make a quick decision. A four-year-old boy had fallen into the pen of a critically endangered 17-year-old male western…

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