A 400-pound endangered silverback gorilla was shot dead by an emergency response team at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday if he grabbed a young boy who fell into the gorilla’s enclosure.
The 3-year-old boy, who had climbed through a public barrier and fell into the moat, was rescued from the enclosure. He was rushed to the hospital with serious, but not life-threatening, injuries, the zoo said. The boy’s age was originally reported to be 4, but police said Tuesday he is actually 3. He turns 4 in December.
Videos were posted to Twitter on Saturday by Amber Soler, who said they were recorded by her mother:
Two female gorillas were taken out immediately after the boy fell, but the third gorilla, a male named Harambe, remained in the yard. The zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team responded to what the zoo called a “life-threatening situation” and made the “difficult decision” to kill the gorilla.
Zoo officials said tranquilizers would have taken to long to incapacitate the large gorilla.
“The Zoo security team’s quick response saved the child’s life. We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla,” Zoo Director Thane Maynard said in a statement. “This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”
The boy was alert when he was taken to the hospital.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and little boy,” said Maynard.
Many have said the gorilla should not have been shot, saying it appeared in the video that the gorilla was holding the boy’s hand and comforting him, and not trying to harm him.
Others pointed to videos showing two boys, one in Brookfield, Illinois, and another at the Jersey Zoo in Britain, being protected and rescued by gorillas.
Gorilla World will be closed until further notice, the zoo said.
Read more about this in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: