(EnviroNews World News) — EDITORIAL: On Saturday May 28, 2016, a very scary and unfortunate situation transpired at the Cincinnati Zoo when a four-year-old boy made his way into an endangered western lowland gorilla’s cage.
The 17-year-old male, named Harambe, did not attack the lad. He did however scoop him up and drag him around a bit, terrifying the boy’s mother and dozens of onlookers. For about ten minutes Harambe hung out with the child, at one point even seeming to help him pull up his pants.
Some people said it looked like Harambe was trying to protect him from all the frantic melee of the onlookers. Still, it’s important to remember, the boy was after all in a dangerous and potentially lethal situation — in a pen with a powerful creature — an animal so strong he could have killed the tyke at any moment with one swat of his hand. Something had to be done — and fast. But what?
When the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team arrived on the scene it didn’t take them long to make a decision. They opted to shoot Harambe down — an animal the zoo had even hoped to use for breeding — and an animal whose species is critically endangered.
While zoo Director Thane Maynard backed the shooting team’s decision, saying they made the right one, countless citizens have mobbed the zoo on social media, chastising it, and saying it should have used tranquilizers or other methods. This point, though relevant, is not the focus of this editorial. The question is: who is at fault in Harambe’s death? The zoo? The mother? Or both?
While many are angry with the zoo for not attempting to tranquilize the animal, far more have chastised the mother, a woman by the name of Michelle Gregg, for being asleep at the wheel. Countless thousands have weighed in angrily against the woman — some even going so far as to pin Harambe’s “murder” on her, and calling for her to be held accountable and even investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS).
Whether or not even putting animals in zoos is ethical, is irrelevant to this editorial. Whether or not Michelle Gregg is a good or a bad mother is also a moot point in regards to this piece.
After examining the available evidence, it is the opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board, that the shooting death of the endangered gorilla known as “Harambe,” lies squarely on the shoulders of the Cincinnati Zoo. Furthermore, it is the opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board, that Gregg should not be blamed or held responsible for the death of Harambe. Here’s why:
IT IS THE ZOO’S RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP DANGEROUS ANIMALS AND HUMANS SEPARATE AT ALL TIMES
If you’re going to be in the business of obtaining wild and very dangerous animals for the purpose of putting them in cages so everyone can come and be amused, you had better damn well make sure the animals stay separate from the people. Bottom line — end of story. People are willing to take their precious children to zoos because they trust the establishments to do just that — keep the animals separate from the people.
The little boy should have never been able to get into the exhibit area in the first place. If the pen was secure, the boy wouldn’t have been able to get in, and none of the horrifying events that transpired would have ever happened.
In regards to Gregg, according to eyewitnesses, she was in charge of several children. While it has been argued that each parent should not be allowed to accompany more than two children, the fact still remains. He never should have been able to get in there in the first place.
Witnesses overheard the boy saying he wanted to enter the exhibit and play in the water. Gregg was then heard telling the boy, “No you’re not. No you’re not.”
If one thing is for certain, even the best parents — the most attentive — have had scares and close calls where their little ones got away from them the second they turned their heads. Most parents feel lucky when something worse, or even downright awful, doesn’t happen in those moments where life gets away.
It can be a full time job keeping young children and toddlers out of trouble — especially if you are watching several of them at once. The zoo needs to be aware of this and secure animal cages to compensate for even the most inattentive parents prone to let their children wander. Many sub-par parents will enter the zoo with their kids over time, and the zoo must be ready if this is the business they want to be in.
The EnviroNews World News Editorial Board is not taking the side of this mother or defending her. It is not known to EnviroNews, or the media-at-large, if she has any record of being a bad or inattentive mother. She could be supermom 364 days out of the year and this was just her unlucky day. Or, she could be an absentminded space cadet, totally not with the program and self-absorbed. We simply do not have these facts at the moment. Either way, it matters not. The zoo was unsuccessful in providing a safe environment for animal viewing.
It is the zoo’s responsibility to make sure dangerous animals are in human-proof cages, unable to interact with people, big or small, at any time. The Cincinnati Zoo failed miserably on Saturday in these regards. The Cincinnati Zoo should bear full responsibility for a little boy being able to, first of all, reach a gorilla and become in danger. And secondly, the zoo should be held fully responsible for shooting and killing the endangered gorilla they were supposed to harbor and keep safe.
Just below, we have included an array of social media posts expressing various viewpoints on this highly controversial animal killing. If you have not seen the videos of the event, you may watch them here: http://environews.tv/world-news/17-yr-old-gorilla-shot-on-site-after-unharmed-boy-falls-into-his-cage-in-cincinnati/
Additionally, there is an EnviroNews poll at the bottom of this page where you can vote and let us know if you think the Cincinnati Zoo made the right decision in shooting Harambe.
— John (@flashzonephoto) May 29, 2016
Mother who let child fall into gorilla area should have to pay for the cost of this dead gorilla. https://t.co/4PvYFWVNWK
— LindaTrottierThrash (@thrashlinda) May 30, 2016
PLEASE morning shows, don't put these idiot parents on your programs. The gorilla is dead. NO ONE wants to hear from them. #Harambe
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) May 29, 2016
How do you not pay attention to your kid long enough for him to climb through barricades & fall into a gorilla exhibit… #Harambe
— beth grabDAMN (@elizabug789) May 29, 2016
— Cami Li (@CamiLiModel) May 29, 2016
— Ashley Chambliss (@ashleychambliss) May 29, 2016
— ali poleski (@allyp1975) May 31, 2016
— jacknemo (@jacknemocomedy) May 29, 2016
— Imagine… (@nadianboone) May 30, 2016