A four-year boy fell into a gorilla enclosure. To save the child, zoo staff shot the animal. Was it justified?

A visit to the zoo is a great way for a family to spend a Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, if parents don’t maintain an adequate level of alertness, such a trip can turn into a tragedy, as in the case of a family who visited a zoo in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The tragic event occurred two days ago in the Cincinnati Zoo, when a four-year old boy, improperly supervised by his parents, fell nearly twelve feet into a gorilla enclosure. The child got stuck in a moat with a male gorilla named Harambe, who didn’t remain neutral towards the intruder. In the end, the animal was killed, which caused a wave of criticism. Was the death of the zoo animal necessary? Couldn’t he have been temporarily tranquilized?


Harambe was a 17-year-old lowland gorilla who died because of human irresponsibility. Careless parents allowed their son to slip under the guard rail next to a moat, resulting in the child hurtling down directly into the enclosure of a 400-pound monkey. The animal grabbed the boy and began pulling him farther in. Witnesses say that Harambe didn’t want to do harm the child, and killing him was a mistake.

The gorilla didn’t seem particularly aggressive, rather annoyed by the situation.

The Zoo staff was in a very difficult situation and had to react quickly. It wasn’t known whether a tranquilizer would have worked fast enough to pull the boy out without endangering his life, which is why after the child had already been in the enclosure for 10 minutes, staff decided to shoot the gorilla. The Zoo’s director believes that it was the right decision, because animals are unpredictable and there’s no way of knowing what the gorilla could’ve done with the child.

Harambe had been living in the Cincinnati Zoo for over two years.