This is one of those stories that makes any animal lover’s skin boil. A defenseless 17 year-old gorilla named Harambe was shot to death at a Cincinnati zoo over the Memorial Day weekend. Though the reason for his death has been considered justified by zoo officials, it still does not make anyone feel better about the events that transpired. Harambe’s death could be considered an abuse of the animal kingdom.
Harambe woke up to a routine day at the zoo only to be gunned down hours later after a 4-year old boy fell into his enclosure. Many are citing bad parenting for his death and believe the incident could have been avoided.
According to witnesses, this child had expressed interest in joining the gorilla. After crawling through a barrier, the boy fell around 12 feet into the moat surrounding the habitat. Zoo officials called the decision to use lethal force a tough but necessary choice given the size of Harambe and the danger the boy was in. The 400-pound gorilla was shot dead about 10 minutes after encountering and dragging the child.
The million dollar question that remains is, where were the parents during all of this? Despite screaming “Mommy loves you” as she watched her son in the habitat, where was she when he was crawling through the barrier?
More than 2,000 people have already signed a petition on Change.org that criticizes the Cincinnati Police Department and the zoo for putting down the animal. The petition also called for the child’s parents to be “held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child.” A Facebook page titled “Justice for Harambe” is also garnering many likes.
Cincinnati police on Sunday said the parents had not been charged, but that charges could eventually be sought by the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney. Authorities did not identify the child or his parents.
Harambe, a Western lowland gorilla, is an endangered species, and according to the zoo, he was intended for breeding. According to the World Wildlife Federation, western lowland gorilla numbers in the dense rain forests of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea have declined by more than 60 percent over the last 20 to 25 years.