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Horror strikes at Gorilla World

by Aja Landolfi, editor in chief

Zoo workers had to shoot and kill a 17 year-old western lowland gorilla named, Harambe, that was killed when a young boy ended up in the gorilla enclosure. Photo attribution to Jere Keys on Flickr.
Zoo workers had to shoot and kill a 17 year-old western lowland gorilla named, Harambe, that was killed when a young boy ended up in the gorilla enclosure. Photo attribution to Jere Keys on Flickr.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), western lowland gorillas are a widespread species. Their numbers are unknown because they tend to inhabit the dense, remote rainforests of Africa. Some of these gorillas are in captivity; three of them are located in the Cincinnati Zoo.

The Cincinnati Zoo experienced a tragic event this past Saturday, May 28th. Zoo workers had to shoot and kill a 17- year-old western lowland gorilla named, Harambe, that was killed when a young boy ended up in the gorilla enclosure.

“The situation was taken out of hands. I don’t understand how a child could’ve ended up in that situation without anyone noticing. There seems to be missing gaps in the story…lots of unknowns,” senior Barbara Kasomenakis said.

Investigators are saying that the boy got into the enclosure by crawling through a barrier, and through some bushes and then fell into the moat. Once bystanders realized that the boy was in the enclosure, frantic calls to 911 were made, asking the police to get in touch with the zoo.

Once the zoo was notified the two female gorillas who were also in the exhibit were called out. The boy was dragged around by the gorilla for ten minutes in what zoo’s team called a “life-threatening situation.”

“I don’t think it [the situation] was handled correctly, the mother should have been paying attention. Once the child entered the exhibit it was doing what had to be done to save the life. We don’t know what would have happened if we tried to tranquilize it. We shouldn’t kill anything, but unfortunately, human life comes first,” Environmental Science teacher Mr. VandDeurs said.

After the child had fallen into the exhibit, zoo workers were able to call out the two female gorillas that were in the enclosure, but Harambe walked over to the boy. At this point, it was up to the zoo’s team to decide how they would save the young boy.

We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team,” Zoo Director Thane Maynard said.

“Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” Director Thane Maynard said.

Since using a tranquilizer was ruled out, the team’s only other option was to shoot and kill Harambe.

Once rescued, the child was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where he is expected to make a full recovery.

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