Over the Memorial Day weekend a vigil of a different sort was held. It was at the Cincinnati Zoo for the western lowland gorilla killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into its exhibit.
This emotionally charged situation saw Mom calling after the boy, “No, you’re not” going to get into the water with the gorillas, as he made his way through bushes above the moat. It had the male gorilla seemingly rescuing the boy from the water, and becoming agitated by onlookers’ screaming.
The quick answer in my mind, upon reading about it, was why didn’t they use tranquilizers? Zoo staff reportedly considered that, saying the drugs would not act fast enough – leaving the boy in danger.
It was a lose-lose situation.
Zoo officials and their response team made the decision to shoot the gorilla, choosing the boy over the endangered animal.
Was that the right course of action? In the end, yes – human life trumps that of animals.
However, as a lover of animals who is always drawn to the apes and gorillas at the zoo, it makes me sad. News reports stated the gorilla seemed to be, at one point, trying to help the boy stand.
It also reminds me of the debate I hear regularly when I express joy over seeing a deer or elk up close – and telling people I also hunt them.
I love animals, and by hunting them – wasting nothing from the kill – I help manage the herd or animal population, plus I feed my family for a long time.
Yes, I can look myself in the mirror and I sleep at night.
And, when what happened at the Cincinnati Zoo comes up, I am torn over the safety of the boy and the loss of the gorilla (which was not being hunted to feed a family).
I think the trend toward responsible animal care is wonderful, such as the Barnum & Bailey circus recently retiring all elephants.
Thus, if zoos are to keep animals they must do so with increased care – for both the spectators as well as the animals.
As for calls to charge the parents of the boy, I think they’ve paid a high enough price.
Still, the loss of the 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe remains a tragedy.