As the Cincinnati Zoo defends its decision to shoot Harambe the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, Ricky Gervais and other celebrities have taken to social media against the family or the zoo.
Harambe was shot on Saturday by zoo keepers at Cincinnati Zoo after a three-year-old boy fell into the gorilla’s enclosure. The zoo’s special response team deemed it the only option to protect the child’s life. The zoo said the use of a tranquilizer dart would take too long to take down the endangered animal and would have been too dangerous, so shooting him dead with a rifle was the only option.
Since the incident, the zoo has been widely criticized for its actions, with many taking to social media calling the mother negligent after the boy made his way under a steel railing around the enclosure, through some bushes and wire, and finally fell 12 feet into the moat of the gorilla enclosure.
Many have theorized that the gorilla, when grabbing the child, was merely protecting him. After watching video footage of the incident, it appeared to some that the gorilla, while he dragged the boy through the shallow moat, appeared to be concerned and taking care of the boy.
WLWT-TV quoted Kim O’Connor, a witness to the incident, as saying she overheard the boy saying he wanted to get in the water with the gorillas, and the mother, who was surrounded by several other young children, had told him no.
As reported by The Telegraph, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo, Thane Maynard, defended their decision to kill the gorilla on Monday, said it is easy to second-guess the situation after the child was rescued safely, but he said there was no doubt the boy’s life was in danger.
Ricky Gervais, comedian and animal activist, took a swipe at the boy’s mother on Twitter, saying: “It seems that some gorillas make better parents than some people.”
It seems that some gorillas make better parents than some people.
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) May 29, 2016
Various memes have been popping up all over Twitter and Facebook.
— Crystal Hefner Ⓥ (@crystalhefner) May 31, 2016
Besides Ricky Gervais, other celebrities, like Piers Morgan of Good Morning Britain, sympathized, and while he admitted the boy’s parents had taken “their eye off the ball,” he laid the blame on the Cincinnati Zoo for not making their barriers safe.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 29, 2016
According to Brian May, Queen singer and guitarist, who also fights for animal rights, he considers the gorilla has been “murdered.”
Why was this Gorilla murdered? No trial – no reason. No excuse. Who will prosecute? Bri https://t.co/g1baEqwojC
— Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay) May 29, 2016
As reported by the Telegraph, ESPN broadcaster Michelle Beadle had urged television shows to not give the parents any publicity, saying,
“Please morning shows, don’t put these idiot parents on your programs. The gorilla is dead. No one wants to hear from them.”
On social media, the boy’s mother reportedly insisted she always “keeps a tight watch on my kids.” Later, a spokeswoman for the family said they had no plans to comment further on the issue.
Speaking of the family, Kate Villanueva, a mother of two from Erlanger, Kentucky, has started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Harambe.” She said, “I do think there’s a degree of responsibility they have to be held to.”
“You have to be watching your children at all times.”
The Facebook page was launched soon after the incident, along with several online petitions and another page calling for a June 5 protest at the zoo.
As for the Ohio police, they said the mother, who is believed to be Michelle Gregg, was not currently facing any charges, but prosecutors may decide later to bring them.
Monday night saw a vigil outside the zoo and one of the organizers, Anthony Seta, said that rather than seeking to blame anyone, the gathering was meant to honor Harambe, who celebrated his 17th birthday the day before he was shot.
People are forming a vigil for gorilla Harambe outside the Cincinnati Zoo two days after he was killed. pic.twitter.com/FeRUw0qO0n
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 30, 2016
Despite the varying criticism on the incident, Jack Hanna, host of Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild, said that the zoo made the right decision in shooting the gorilla. Referring to the video of the gorilla dragging the young boy through the water, he said you knew what would happen if the animal wasn’t killed.
“I’ll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today,” Hanna told WBNS-TV.