The mother of a 3-year-old boy who climbed into the enclosure of Harambe the gorilla the Cincinnati Zoo will face no criminal charges. The incident happened on May 28, and it resulted in the 3-year-old child being dragged around the exhibit by Harambe the gorilla for roughly 10 minutes. Zoo officials then made the decision to shoot and kill Harambe to save the boy.
According to a witness of the event, the boy’s mother had been distracted and was not paying attention to her child when he climbed into, reports CNN.
While in the enclosure with the 450-pound Harambe, the boy was grabbed by the ape and dragged through the exhibits moat. Some witnesses have said that the didn’t believe that Harambe was trying to hurt the little boy, but rather was attempting to protect him. After the child fell into the enclosure, onlookers began screaming and yelling, and there has been some speculation that the hysteria contributed to the Harambe’s anxiety and behavior with the child.
Because the child appeared to be in danger, zoo officials chose to shoot and kill the gorilla. According to experts at the zoo, officials chose not to opt for non-lethal tranquilizers because they were fearful that they wouldn’t go into effect fast enough to protect the child from harm.
Check out the moments leading up to the death of Harambe the gorilla.
After the harrowing experience, the 3-year-old boy suffered only minor injuries and was treated and released at a local hospital.
Other zoo attendees and eventually the world became enraged at what they saw as the “senseless murder” of the 17-year-old Harambe, citing the negligence of the mother as the proximate cause of Harambe’s death. People all over the world weighed in on the controversy, with many calling for charges to be filed against her in connection with the gorilla’s senseless death.
At least one witness to the event said that the 3-year-old child had told his mother that the wanted to get into the water in the enclosure, to which she responded, “No.” However, she then allowed herself to become distracted by other children in her charge, and it was at that time that her son managed to get into the enclosure with Harambe and the Cincinnati Zoo’s other gorillas.
“The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to go in, go in, get in the water and his mother is like, ‘No you’re not, no you’re not.”
After the incident, local authorities made the decision to investigate the family, and over the weekend, authorities reportedly conducted an in-home visit with the 3-year-old and his mother, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters.
According to law enforcement, the boy’s mother was tending to her child at the time of the incident but became momentarily distracted by other the other children at the zoo with her.
“Her attention was drawn away for seconds, maybe a minute, and then he was up and in before you knew it, she said.”
Despite the mother’s repeated assurances that her child’s ability to sneak into the gorilla enclosure was “just an accident,” people the world over demanded an investigation into her “negligence” and ultimately for her criminal prosecution in relation to the death of Harambe the gorilla. An online petition titled “Justice for Harambe” collected over half a million signatures from people who believed the 3-year-old’s mother should face criminal charges in the death of Harambe.
In response, early last week, local law enforcement announced that they were “reviewing” the incident, with the focus of their investigative attention being on the boy’s family. While many people blamed the mother for the situation that led to Harambe the gorilla’s death, others were more supportive. They blamed the zoo, which has stood by its decision to shoot the gorilla, for not making the enclosure more “child proof.”
The parents reportedly cooperated fully with law enforcement’s investigation, and when supporters offered donations to help them pay for a potential legal defense in the case, they declined them.
Ultimately, such donations proved to be unnecessary anyway, with Cincinnati police deciding to file no charges against the mom in the case.
Now that no charges will be filed against the mom of the tot who fell into the enclosure, a newly-fortified “Gorilla World” is slated to reopen Tuesday.
[Photo by Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images]