Kid's Parents Could Be Charged in Gorilla Death

Harambe's first keeper says he was like one of his sons
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2016 4:47 AM CDT
Updated Jun 1, 2016 6:44 AM CDT
Kid's Parents Could Be Charged in Gorilla Death
Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, was fatally shot to protect a 3-year-old boy who had entered his exhibit.   (Jeff McCurry/Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden via the Cincinatti Enquirer via AP)

Harambe the gorilla is becoming the most talked-about animal since Cecil the lion—and his death is just as controversial. On Tuesday, police and prosecutors confirmed that the shooting at the Cincinnati Zoo is being investigated, and they haven't ruled out criminal charges against the parents of the boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit on Saturday, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Police now say the boy is 3 years old, not 4 as earlier reported. The US Department of Agriculture is also investigating the incident. A roundup of coverage:

  • Jane Goodall wrote to the zoo's director to express her sympathies, Time reports. "It looked as though the gorilla was putting an arm round the child," the world-renowned expert wrote in an email made public by her foundation.
  • In a Facebook post, former gorilla handler Amanda O'Donoughue explains why she believes the zoo did the right thing, and why she thinks the gorilla was not trying to protect the boy, as it appears to Goodall.

  • The Cincinnati Enquirer speaks to Jerry Stones at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, who looked after Harambe for the first 15 years of his life. The "fun-loving and intelligent" gorilla "was like one of my sons," Stones says. "He was beautiful and a true character—so mischievous and not aggressive." He says that since he wasn't there, he isn't going to comment on the controversy, but he has set up the Harambe Fund to help Harambe's critically endangered species.
  • The Stop Animal Exploitation Now animal rights group requested a USDA investigation, reports CNN. The group cited previous USDA reports from the zoo, including a report from March this year detailing the escape of two polar bears into a service hallway.
  • The New York Times reports that Donald Trump spoke about the killing on Tuesday, saying it was a "very tough call" for the zoo. They probably had no choice, he said, but "it was amazing because there were moments with the gorilla, the way he held that child, it was almost like a mother holding a baby."
  • In an opinion piece at the Guardian, Ijeoma Oluo says there should be no "parent-shaming" over the zoo incident, because it could happen to any mother. Small children "have an innate sense of curiosity matched with the inability to comprehend danger," she writes. "Add to that small size, surprisingly quick movement, and a creativity forgotten in adulthood, and you have a recipe for never-ending possible disaster."
(More gorilla stories.)

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