Above is a picture of Harambe, the gorilla that was shot and killed Saturday by Cincinnati zoo employees when a 4-year-old child fell into his enclosure. The child suffered a concussion and some abrasions but is going to be just fine. The gorilla, unfortunately, will not be.
Harambe was a western lowland gorilla, the most numerous and widespread gorilla subspecies but nevertheless considered critically endangered by the World Wildlife Fund. There are an estimated 175,000 left in the wild. Born and raised in captivity, Harambe was one of 10 gorillas at the zoo and part of their breeding program.
It’s a tragedy that such a magnificent animal had to be put down in his prime because of human shortcomings. But when having to choose between a human life and an animal life, there can be no discussion.
If there is blame to be placed, it cannot be with the child’s mother. Children move quickly and unpredictably, and accidents happen. Nor can the zoo employees be blamed for shooting the animal instead of tranquilizing him. Tranquilizers take too long to work, and the gorilla, dragging the child around like a rag doll, could have killed the boy in an instant.
Blame, if any is to be assigned, is on the zoo for not having an absolutely childproof enclosure. They’ve already paid a very high price for that shortcoming.
The story should end here. But as litigious as our society has become, it’s hard to say for sure.