Endangered gorilla killed after 4-year-old fell into pen


A double tragedy took place during Memorial Day Weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo when a 4-year-old boy was hospitalized after falling into a gorilla enclosure and a rare gorilla was shot and killed in order to protect the boy.

The Cincinnati Police Department officers and emergency crews responded to a call about a child falling into the enclosure at about 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, 3400 Vine St, Cincinnati, Ohio.

According to CPD officers the child was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center near the zoo and was treated for non-life threatening, but serious injuries.

Cincinnati Zoo President Thane Maynard said in a press conference Saturday that the boy crawled through a barrier and fell an estimated 10 feet into the moat surrounding the habitat, but was not seriously injured by the fall itself.

Maynard said the boy was with the 400-pound gorilla named Harambe for about 10 minutes before the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team deemed the situation”life-threatening” and decided to put Harambe down.

The Cincinnati Fire Department reported in a press release that first respondents “witnessed a gorilla who was violently dragging and throwing the child.” They also said the boy was in between the gorilla’s legs when the gorilla got shot.

“It’s a sad day all the way around,” Maynard said. “They made a tough choice. They made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life. It could have been very bad.”

The decision to shoot Harambe and not tranquilize him was made for the boy’s safety, according to Maynard, because in an agitated situation it may take a while before the tranquilizer works. His dramatic response to being hit by a tranquilizer gun could have put the boy in more danger. Maynard also explained that while Harambe didn’t attack the child, the animal’s size and strength posed a great danger.