Was Harambe The Gorilla, Killed By Cincinnati Zoo, Protecting The Child? Eyewitness And Expert Insists 450lb Male Ape Was Merely Trying To Help

The gorilla that the Cincinnati Zoo killed, seemed to protect the child who had fallen in the moat, insists multiple eyewitnesses present at the enclosure when the incident took place.

Harambe, the endangered silverback gorilla was shot dead by Cincinnati Zoo officials after a three-year-old boy fell into its enclosure. While numerous videos shot by scared onlookers indicate the animal dragged the boy through water as well as the enclosure, a witness maintains the gorilla wasn’t trying to intentionally harm the kid, but was merely trying to protect it, reported ABC News. The intentions of the gorilla could be observed through his actions.

The boy, who was earlier misreported as a four-year-old, had been insistent on going into the enclosure and getting in the water, shared witness Kim O’Connor,

“The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to [go into the enclosure]… get in the water. The mother’s like, ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not’.”

Hence it seems apparent that the child merely set his plans in motion and sneaked past his mother and slid into the enclosure. Earlier reports indicate the child was injured after he “stumbled and fell” into the habitat of the gorillas. However the boy’s statement, as well as the fact that he seemed quite OK after entering the enclosure, indicate it was a premeditated action.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the boy appeared to stand still in the water, while Harambe, a 17-year-old 450lb fully-grown silverback gorilla sat hunched near the boy. Despite casting a towering and imposing figure over the child, the boy appeared surprisingly calm and stood still. Videos recorded from multiple angles reveal, at one point, the gorilla appeared to cautiously touch the child’s hand and back, as if to familiarize himself with the foreign object that was introduced to his enclosure. The gorilla even seemed to offer assistance as he nudged the child to stand up.

Harambe had just turned 17 a day earlier. Cincinnati Zoo had posted about the same on their Facebook page:


As the screaming from the onlookers increased, the gorilla grabbed the child and dragged him through the enclosure. While it may seem the animal was harming the child, O’Connor claims the gorilla merely acted instinctively, reported WLWT5.

“People are yelling, ‘There’s a boy in the water. There’s a boy in the water.’ 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.”

Incidentally, the gorilla was nowhere near the boy when he first entered the enclosure. Harambe, a lowland gorilla, was calmly sitting inside his cave when the boy managed to get into the Gorilla World enclosure. The boy made quite a splash in the moat when he landed. Moreover, people immediately started yelling, “There’s a boy in the water.” The commotion must have alerted the animal, who likely came to investigate.

The boy was in the enclosure for about 10 minutes, before Cincinnati Zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided to kill the gorilla. The child was safely retrieved and rushed to a nearby hospital. Doctors have confirmed the injuries sustained by the child aren’t life threatening and he will make a complete recovery. However, the internet has been furious about the death of an endangered animal.

The Inquisitr had reported that a petition was started online that called for holding the parents of the little boy responsible for the death of an innocent animal. The petition has managed to get more than 66,000 signatures so far as many feel the animal died needlessly and could have been protected if the zoo had sedated him, instead of using lethal means to protect the child.

[Update] According to animal behavior experts, Harambe’s death could have been avoided, reported News. The boy wasn’t in any real danger noted University of New England animal behaviour expert Gisela Kaplan. Gorillas aren’t predominantly aggressive and the male seemed to “investigate.” Had the zoo officials adopted a different approach rather than killing him to retrieve the child, Harambe would be alive today.

[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]

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