This story has been in the media so much lately, that I had to speak on it. In case you aren’t aware, let me summarize what happened…
A 4 year old Ohio boy and his mother were visiting their local zoo. Upon viewing the Gorilla exhibit, the boy was heard by witnesses expressing desire to go into the cage with the Gorilla (of course, because what 4 year old doesn’t want to go play with wild animals? Hell, I know grown men who want to do that!). His mother was even heard telling him “No (because, of course, no 4 year old belongs in zoo exhibits playing with wild animals!), you can’t.” So at some point, she takes her focus off of him, and he is able to breach security around the enclosure, and fall into the moat surrounding the animal. Zookeepers had to make the decision to put Harambe, the 17-year old adult male silverback, down rather than tranquilizing. This was the measure taken for getting the boy out-who was being dragged and tossed around by the gorilla. These are the facts. Now, everything else is up for opinion and debate…
And the internet has been FULL of opinion and debate! Opinions on this mother’s parenting, the measures taken by the Cincinnati Zoo, the Gorilla’s intentions… there has been much speculation on exactly how long this child was “left unattended”, how he was able to break into the enclosure itself, the security itself surrounding the animals….
This tragedy has launched not only petitions to have the parents of the child charged criminally, but full on investigations by CPS and the Cincinnati Police, on the family in question. The Zoo is also reportedly under investigation by Animal Welfare Agencies to determine exactly how the security could have been broken by a 4 year old boy.
Now, at the time I am writing this post, I have read that the police have concluded their investigation and decided not to recommend charging the parents. Whether or not this is done, at this point, is anyone’s guess. But throughout all the media coverage and internet hype, all I can really think about this case, is how unfortunate it is.
It is unfortunate that the boy’s mother lost sight of him long enough, be it 5 seconds or 25 minutes, that he was able to get into the Gorilla exhibit. It is unfortunate that Harambe, (maybe trying to protect the boy, maybe simply confused) had that much interaction with the child, and didn’t just run away when the boy fell into the pit. It is unfortunate that the zookeepers had to make the difficult decision to put their beloved Gorilla down, one of a very endangered population.
It’s even more unfortunate that the parent’s are being investigated for negligence, and may even have charges pressed against them. And it’s unfortunate that the Zoo is now under the scrutiny of PETA and other Animal Welfare agencies.
But you know what would have been even more unfortunate than all that? The 4 year old boy dying. Then, the Gorilla would still have been put down, all these investigations and petitions would still be launched…but a mother would have to go through the grieving process of losing her child during everything as well.
I can be as petty as the next person, I can be as understanding as another. Opinions aside, everyone should be able to agree that this situation could have had a much more horrific turnout than it did.
Whether you think this mother is as negligent as they come, or mother of the year – the Gorilla was a gentle giant or a monster gone mad – the zookeepers stupid as hell or very educated in their field and decisions…can we all just agree on one thing?
That one thing being that, essentially, this was just a very Unfortunate Situation for everyone involved.