Animals ♥ · Rants ♥

The gorilla and the boy.

Okay so this has been firing me up every time I see it on Facebook and tbh it is starting to really do my head in that people aren’t looking at this logically because they’re too busy being passionate about the animal, and I’ll probably get a bit of hate for this but never mind.

This whole fiasco with the gorilla that got shot dead because of the boy that fell into his enclosure; if you don’t really know about it (it’s almost impossible you don’t because it has been plastered across most social media platforms for the past week) then you can read more about it here. Bottom line is that a 3/4 year-old boy managed to climb over the bars surrounding the gorilla’s enclosure and fell down into the moat. After some heart-warming and some dangerous interaction with the zoo’s much-loved 400-pound gorilla Harambe, zoo officials took it upon themselves to shoot the gorilla dead in order to protect the child.

The internet is in an absolute uproar that the endangered animal was shot dead with many people labelling it as ‘disgusting’ and ‘outrageous’. The parents are being blamed for this ‘monstrous’ act but these people are failing to ask themselves an important question, what if the gorilla HAD killed the child?

DickersonSo firstly looking at the parents. Well the mother was apparently there with her children and the father was absent. Yes she should’ve kept a closer watch on her son but can you imagine having to juggle four children at a zoo by yourself? Kids that age are forever getting ‘lost’ or having accidents, they are pretty fearless especially when it comes to climbing and there should never have even been an opportunity for the child to climb into the enclosure.

The mother has received death threats and the parents are now being investigated but what parent hasn’t lost track of their child before in a large, highly-populated public area? Especially a zoo which is supposed to be quite child-friendly, there are kids running about in every direction. I got lost LOADS of times as a kid but did that make my parents bad parents? No! Okay so I didn’t end up in a gorilla’s enclosure but still, try to remember that the mother didn’t actually intend for her child to end up with a potentially dangerous animal. It only takes a moment of looking the other way, literally anything could’ve happened. It’s not the same as say, the mother I saw the other day who was so busy arguing with the baby daddy as to not realise her toddler had ran straight into the road into an oncoming taxi?

So then it is time to look at the zoo. The zoo has been under fire as well from some animal rights groups, claiming that the enclosure designed to keep the gorillas separate from visitors was not adequate. The enclosure was designed as an exhibit with an open-viewing area; a deep pit surrounded by a moat at the bottom, a fence and a low bush, with a reduction in man-made materials for a more natural habitat for the gorillas and a more natural viewing experience for the visitors.
The-gorilla-enclosure-barrier-at-Cincinnati-ZoogorillatweetYou can see very clearly in this picture that the barrier is not that high, a child could very easily slip through or climb over. The hedge isn’t even thick, with very large gaps that a child could crawl through. As Michael Budkie, spokesman for Stop Animal Exploitation Now, stated “If this enclosure had been constructed adequately, a child could not have penetrated it. This wasn’t someone who came in with grappling hooks and rope. You tell me. If a child can get through the barrier, is that a safe barrier?” There should be NO opportunity for anyone to get into the closure regardless of whether the mother had turned her attention elsewhere for a moment.

With poor construction attempting to keep us humans out, what about keeping the gorillas in? There’s a 12ft drop directly in front of the barrier and at the bottom there is a shallow moat. The drop is to prevent the gorillas from climbing out and the moat is to prevent them from getting near the walls that they could attempt to climb out from, only this failed because the moat is shallow and even though gorillas cannot naturally swim, does not meant they don’t like to frolic in water; this is why Harambe was able to reach the boy.IMG_0145-1024x768Not too far from where I live, we have a safari park called Longleat that has its own ‘Gorilla Island’; it is literally an island surrounded by a lake and you must catch a ferry to view the island, THAT’S how you keep gorillas at bay using water not that shallow excuse for a barrier used in the Cincinnati zoo.

With regards to the drop, looking at the photo above of the enclosure the land that the gorillas are on is roughly the same height as the visitors, and unless it looks less than it really is in the picture, the gap between their land and the visitor’s isn’t exactly far. Unless gorillas don’t really do long-distance jumping, who’s to say it can’t make the leap?

On another note the sign in the photo actually says “BE ALERT! Gorillas are known to throw objects such as clumps of dirt.” At least a higher barrier could somewhat protect us from that… ¬_¬

Lastly we’re going to look at how the gorilla interacted with the boy; this is the biggest topic of debate – Was the gorilla trying to protect or kill the boy?

Ape body-language experts claim that the gorilla appeared to be protecting the boy; he didn’t appear to be threatening the child and actually hid the child from the other gorillas’ view. I won’t lie, even I warmed when it appeared that the curious gorilla was just checking the boy out. At one point he wrapped his arms around the boy and for a moment they even seemed to hold hands. Aw how sweet right? He was just interested in this brand new item in his enclosure…VID-Harambe-a-male-silverback-gorilla-at-Cincinnati-Zoo-2b_160601002Item. I highly doubt Harambe saw the child as one of his own or even anything like his own enough to take pity on him. Tbh I think he was merely interested in the fact that something new was in his enclosure and whilst he didn’t seem aggressive towards the boy because he felt the boy posed no threat, he did appear to be somewhat playing with him. All the articles at the moment are defending the gorilla and his apparent protectiveness over the child, but did no one actually watch the gorilla DRAG the boy by the ankle through the water???dragNow I’ve never seen a gorilla drag their young around that way, have you? Regardless of whether the gorilla was playing or just didn’t know his own strength, the child could’ve drowned, especially since he was dragged the length of the moat at high-speed quite viciously. Thankfully he only gained concussion and some bruising, nothing too serious but it could have killed him, and that is what the zoo officials were resting on here.

Yes it probably is true that all of the screaming from the crowd agitated the animal into dragging the boy around but then he could have easily just been overly playful or woke up in a grumpy mood, who knows? I honestly think the gorilla was being protective over his new toy not because he didn’t want the boy to get hurt; more like being possessive not protective. Now imagine that he had been too overzealous with the child and he had died, how would everyone react then? Ofc probably the complete opposite to how they’re reacting now – “the gorilla should’ve been shot.” “Why did it take so long for staff to act?”

Everyone is complaining that a tranquilizer wasn’t used instead, suddenly everyone is an expert on tranquilizers and that a fast acting one would’ve been fine to use. Regardless of the speed of the tranquilizer, if the gorilla had been shot he could very well have become either extremely frightened or extremely angry which could’ve resulted in the terrible consequence of the death of the child, who was the nearest thing (or currently being held by) Harambe and he could quite easily have tore the child in half. That was a risk that the zoo staff were not willing to take and led to the unfortunate decision of shooting the animal dead.

Yes it was awful that the gorilla had to be killed but for some reason everyone has this idea that he was some gentle giant who couldn’t hurt a kitten. HE IS A WILD ANIMAL. A wild animal with very little human contact I might add. You can NEVER take your chance with a Silverback gorilla, especially when his family are close by. This is why I believe it is very possible that he was playing with the child; have you never seen a lion play with their food first? I’ve seen lions groom their prey and even allow them to snuggle up to them before suddenly snapping and killing them. Who’s to say that this gorilla couldn’t have turned like that if for a split second it considered the boy a threat?

Even Levan Merritt, who fell into a gorilla enclosure aged five in 1986, agrees that it was the rightful thing to do. His experience was quite different having been knocked unconscious, the gorilla Jambo came and checked Levan out before leading his group away from the boy so that officials could get to him.

So anyway that is my view on it; tbh I feel that the zoo is initially at fault for having a barrier that could so easily be slipped through. At least raise the barriers with a glass top or put a mesh ‘roof’ over the enclosure so that no one can fall in. The child should’ve never had the opportunity to get in, and I feel that the right measures were taken at the end of the day even though it is truly awful and unfortunate for both the zoo and the gorilla.

I just wish everyone would stop getting all high almighty when they’re either not looking at it logically or knowing the full story; it’s easy to throw the blame around and send death threats to the mother for not watching her children, but it was a 3 year-old and a 400-pound Silverback! This isn’t the same situation as when a guy willingly broke into the lion enclosure naked to commit suicide by mauling which resulted in him being rescued and the lions being shot (literally happened just before this incident with Harambe), oh no but people are far more outraged at this case of an innocent happening compared to someone purposely putting themselves and the animals at risk.

I might get backlash for this but I needed to get it out because I don’t want to fire at people on my Facebook for being one-sided. Just bear in mind that there are more sides to the story than the death of the animal, there is more than one person to blame. End rant.

2 thoughts on “The gorilla and the boy.

  1. I really liked it to hear this story from all sides, well written! To be honest I was also quick the blame the mother, but I wasn’t aware that she had 4 children to attend to and that it was so easy for the boy to gain access to the gorilla’s enclosure. Reading this I think that the zoo is to blame for the gorilla’s death, they should have taken much better precautions.

    1. I think it didn’t help that news articles were so quick to blame the mother and portray this animal as being soft-hearted. Everyone immediately jumped on it and did the same, failing to actually look at it from all sides that were involved. It bothered me so much and that is why I felt the need to write this post; I firmly believe that the zoo should have ensured the safety of the visitors but constructing the gorilla’s enclosure that left no opportunity for anyone to fall/climb into it, and they failed on that.

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