WATCH: Raw Video Shows Gorilla Grab Boy at Cincinnati Zoo

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Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla, was shot dead after he grabbed a boy who fell into an enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Facebook)

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.

Harambe, who recently celebrated his 17th birthday on May 27, dragged the boy into the moat in the Gorilla World exhibit, the Cincinnati Zoo said in a press release.

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:

Boy Falls into Gorilla Enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo (Original HD) || ViralHogOccurred May 28, 2016 / Cincinnati, Ohio, USA After falling into the gorilla enclosure, a four-year-old boy was dragged through the water by a silverback gorilla. Though the gorilla appeared to be attempting to shelter the boy, eventually authorities had to put the gorilla down. (Full HD Original – For licensing or usage, contact licensing@viralhog.com)2016-05-29T17:25:51.000Z

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.

The boy’s mother has been identified as Michelle Gregg. She said in a Facebook post on Sunday that “accidents happen” and thanked God for protecting her son. Read more about her here.

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: