Stop Animal Exploitation Now says the boy who made his way into the gorilla sanctuary on Saturday should have never been able to do so.
CINCINNATI, OH – The Cincinnati Zoo is open this weekend, but its Gorilla World is closed indefinitely after a 4-year-old boy got into the gorilla enclosure on Saturday and was hurt. An endangered gorilla had to be killed.
According to the Associate Press, federal reports show the zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit was inspected in April, and no violations were found.
They also show a federal inspector warned the Cincinnati Zoo that the public could have been “at great risk” if two polar bears that escaped a behind-the-scenes holding area in March had gained outside access.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it will “be looking into this incident.”
Cell phone videos from people visiting the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday show a four-year-old boy in the Gorilla World moat.
The boy somehow got through a barrier and fell at least 10 feet down into the shallow stream.
That’s when Herambe, a 17-year-old endangered western lowland gorilla approaches the boy. At first, it looks like he’s being protective, but then his behavior turns threatening.
Zoo officials removed two female gorillas from the enclosure but did not approach Herambe for at least 10 minutes.
Eventually, Zoo President Thane Mayard says the 400 pound gorilla became violent.
“It seemed very much by our dangerous animal response team that it was a dangerous situation, so the choice was made to put down or shoot Harambe, and so he’s gone,” Mayard said.
The zoo says its team chose not to tranquilize the Gorilla because the animal was agitated and it would have taken too long to sedate him.
“The zoo is in the business of taking care of endangered animals, and we certainly don’t want to be in a situation where they have to be killed,” says Mayard.
Animal activists have created online petitions and Facebook pages like Justice for Herambe. Many angry the endangered gorilla was put down. Others want the boy’s mother to face child endangerment charges.
PETA released a statement saying the gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barier between the humans and the animals.
The zoo says it is reviewing its security around the enclosure. The boy was treated for non life threatening injuries and will be okay.