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Zoo downing gorilla was necessary to save boy’s life

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The Cincinnati Zoo was forced to fatally shoot a 17-year-old, 400-pound silverback gorilla named Harambe on Saturday after a child managed to sneak into the primate enclosure.

Despite saving the three-year-old boy, the zoo is facing stark criticism for its handling of the incident.

Let me preface my column by saying I do not support animal cruelty. Senseless killing of animals should never be tolerated and always be prevented, but I do not believe this to be the case here.

I asked myself how a parent could let something like this to happen upon viewing the incident’s horrifying footage. I am yet a parent, but negligence may have played a role. No child would be able to maneuver through the enclosure’s intricate barriers without their parents noticing.

I can recall the countless times when I, or my siblings, got carried away in the shopping mall or grocery store only to hear the PA system called our names and gave us directions to return to our mother. Luckily, there were no 400-pound gorillas in Kroger.

But you know what? Parents aren’t perfect.

The condemnation of this child’s parents seems a bit uncalled for. Certain users in comment sections and message boards across a multitude of platforms have declared things such as “They should have shot the parents.”

Expecting a parent of a small, curious child to constantly supervise them is nearly impossible. It is a shame that a child was put in danger and an innocent, endangered animal had to be killed due to this instance of negligence.

That said, negligence is negligence, and many parents are more fortunate than this parent as to not have their mistakes recorded and subjected to the masses’ judgment.

Parents should not be able to move on from this incident unscathed, as these animals are valuable. The family was able to exit the zoo that is now one gorilla short and that does not seem fair.

In addition to parenting criticisms, many people have taken shots at the Cincinnati Zoo for their decision to kill the gorilla with a gun. Speculators insist that a tranquilizing dart should have been used to prevent Harambe’s loss.

Arguments in this vein fail to consider the speed with which the zoo was forced to make a choice that determined the life of a child.

A tranquilizing dart sounds great on paper, but would take minutes to sedate the primate. In the meantime, the pain would anger the animal, leaving the zoo keepers to hope and pray that the gorilla would not take his frustration out on the small boy.

As much as this may sting for some individuals, a human life is worth far more than that of an animal.

This boy can now experience life, fulfill dreams, form complex thoughts and enrich someone else’s life. It is a shame that the situation did not end completely without tragedy, but the boy had far more to lose.

We should rejoice in the fact that an innocent child was saved.

Sports editor Reagan Earnst is a print journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]


  • got it wrong..they should have tranquilized it regardless and thrown the parents in jail for murder and child abuse

    • Unfortunately, tranquilizer darts take time to down something like a gorilla, enough time for it to do whatever it wanted.

      Human life will always be valued more than another creature’s, and when it’s one or the other on the line that decision has already been made, and frankly, that’s how it should be.

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