The Brutal Killing Of The Gorilla When A Child Fell Into His Enclosure Exposes The Absurdity Of Zoos

Andrea A.
2/6/2016

On May 28, Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, was killed by the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, after a 4-year-old boy fell into his enclosure.

The young boy had managed to slip out of his parents' view and climb behind the barrier, only to fall through the gap and end up face to face with the 180kg male gorilla.

For the child's safety, the directors of the zoo made the rushed decision to shoot down the animal, claiming that a tranquilliser would not have acted quickly enough.

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Source: @Cincinnati News

Thane Maynard, the director of the zoo, justified his staff's decision:

Our intervention team decided that this was a life or death situation. They saved the life of the little boy.

The child was taken to hospital but his life is not at risk.

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Source: @YouTube

Thousands in shock

Three days after the incident, emotions are still running high. Many people have spoken out to condemn the zoo's reaction, which seemed over-the-top considering that the gorilla did not behave aggressively towards the child.

https://twitter.com/caraphoto23/status/737326319109853185?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Since Saturday, the hommages have flooded in. Just outside of the zoo's gates, animal rights groups have organised a vigil, paying tribute to the gorilla whose life was so ruthlessly cut short.

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Source: @John Minchillo/AP/SIPA

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Source: @BBC

See Harambe's first days at the Cincinnati Zoo in April 2015:

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKGSmRC7FUk[/embed]

Accusations of parental negligence

Internet-users have also pointed the finger at the boy's parents, accusing them of negligence: how could they let their child climb the railings, cross a row of bushes at least a metre below them, and finally, fall five metres?

In response, the couple have shown their support to those who are most upset by the gorilla's death. In a press release, the parents said:

Some people have offered us money, but we cannot and will not accept any. If anybody wants to donate, we recommend making a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo for Harambe. 

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Source: @BBC

A petition on the site Change.orgdemanding that the parents be held responsible for the death of the primate, has already got more than 400,000 signatures.

On Facebook, the page "Justice For Harambe" has got more than 143,000 "likes" since Saturday.

The absurdity and horror of captivity 

Though of course we cannot attribute the blame to anyone, one thing is certain: this tragedy would not have occurred if wild animals weren't sentenced to a life of misery, in captivity, for the enjoyment of visitors.

Most zoo animals spend their lives imprisoned in artificial habitats which do not meet their basic needs.

Though some zoos make more of an effort than others to make it a stimulating environment, there is one thing they all have in common: they imprison animals against their wishes, putting them on display for the amusement of the public.

No matter how big the enclosure, all zoo animals are solitary prisoners, living a life of sadness and boredom.

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Source: @Jo-Anne McArthur

The animal rights organisation PETA underlines that:

Zoos teach the public that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored and unstimulated, confined and isolated, far from their natural habitat, and all thanks to humans.

Though some zoos claim that their work is essential to the conservation of endangered species, we must remember that very few of these animals in captivity are endangered. What's more, an animal who has grown up in captivity can never go back to his natural habitat in the wild.

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Source: @Jo-Anne McArthurIn fact, the best way of protecting animals in danger of extinction, like Harambe the gorilla, is simply by preserving their natural habitat. There is no need to put them in a cage.If you'd like to join the fight to end animal captivity, you can support the Born Free Foundationwhich strives to end animal suffering in captivity and phase out zoos.