Jane Goodall Finally Unveils Real Feelings About Cincinnati Zoo’s Decision To Shoot Harambe The Gorilla

Jane Goodall has released a few statements about the killing of Harambe the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo following his encounter with a 3-year-old boy who found a way inside his enclosure. None of those statements have shown her true feelings until now.

Yahoo reports that the famous primate expert shared her thoughts on the zoo’s decision to shoot Harambe after he made contact with a toddler who sneaked his way into the gorilla’s enclosure. Her innermost thoughts were revealed through the Jane Goodall Institute via International Fund for Animal Welfare. Goodall answered questions from Azzedine Downes, president and CEO of the IFAW.

Goodall addressed several “complex questions” she was asked about following the headlines over Memorial Day weekend that turned into a national outrage.

Harambe was a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla that died too soon, but protective measures were a priority after the animal was seen dragging a young boy around in the water. Although he expressed moments of trying to shield the boy from the commotion of onlookers, he was clearly flummoxed at the situation.

Goodall reveals in a new interview that she supports the zoo’s decision to shoot Harambe. Several experts have emphatically stated that shooting the gorilla with a tranquilizer would’ve only further aggravated him because the effect would take too long, making Harambe all the more unpredictable.

“It was awful for the child, the parents, Harambe, the zoo, the keepers and the public. But when people come into contact with wild animals, life and death decisions sometimes have to be made,” Goodall said.

When asked what Harambe was thinking when the boy was inside the enclosure with him, Goodall was asked how she interpreted the gorilla’s behavior and what may have been going through his mind. She said what can be gleaned from the video is that “a 450 lb animal had hold of a small child. Harambe could have hurt the child even without intending to cause harm.”

Jane Goodall added that it would’ve presented a difficult situation “for even people familiar with Harambe himself, researchers or keepers who may have spent hours with Harambe, to ascertain his intentions from a distance in as short a time as it would take to do irreparable harm.”

As observers and experts have weighed in, Goodall agreed it “certainly appeared at times that he was being gentle, but he was nervous and agitated by the unexpected arrival of the child and the shouting of the people watching.”

Not long after the incident, Jane wrote an email to Thane Maynard, the Cincinnati Zoo’s director. She thought Harambe may have been protecting the child and “putting an arm” around him. Goodall did extend her sympathies to Maynard, the child’s family, and the zoo.

What does Jane Goodall think of zoos and animals living in captivity? The world’s foremost primate expert says not all zoos uphold the same standards, but if they allow animals enough room, provide a social community, and have enrichment, she “believes that many species of animals can have a reasonable – even a good – life.”

Additionally, Goodall says “being in the presence of a living, breathing animal, knowing the way it smells, looking into his or her eyes, and above all sensing its ‘being-ness’ can be a life changing experience” for a child or an adult. On top of that, Jane points out that the wild isn’t helping animals in certain regions of the world. She said that “we have to realize that life in the wild, in many parts of the world today, is not providing animals with a good life.”

For instance, gorillas are hunted for bushmeat and chimpanzee infants are stolen from their mothers and sold to the exotic pet or entertainment trade. A significant amount of illegal hunting and wildlife crimes make unsustainable living for these and other wild animals.

Jane Goodall has nothing against zoos for educational purposes and says those with the “highest standards of care can play an important role.”

[Photo by Michel Porro/Getty Images]