Is the killing of Harambe the gorilla a crime, or not?

Cincinnati – A male gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo was killed by keepers on Saturday after he dragged around a 4-year-old boy who fell into the enclosure, a zoo official said.

The boy crawled through a barrier and fell about 3.7m into a moat surrounding the habitat, where Harambe, a 181kg western lowland gorilla, grabbed him, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard told reporters.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Do you consider it a crime that this gorilla was killed?   Let’s discuss…

 

15 thoughts on “Is the killing of Harambe the gorilla a crime, or not?

    • There’s no doubt this mother took her eyes off a three year old and tragedy resulted because of it. As the article states though, negligence usually involves leaving the child, and not simply inattention. But does this rise to criminality? I don’t think so. Zoos should be fun places, not dangerous ones. In my opinion? This mother was let down as well. The world may keep excoriating her, but in reality, all the haters will probably get the opportunity to hate her even more, as we all watch her file a succesful lawsuit against the zoo, the city, et al.

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  1. Investigating them for what? Unless their lapse of attention to the child was due to use of alcohol or drugs, I really can’t see any criminal liability resulting from this incident. Yes, this was an accident that could have been avoided, but culpability of the parents will be miniscule in the grand scheme of things. This zoo bears responsibility for this tragedy happening. What if the mom had simply suffered a medical emergency instead of failing to keep an eagle eye on him? Where would the authorities be looking then? The child was failed on several levels, but mostly by the zoo itself. That enclosure should have been 100% secure. Just my opinion.

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    • I agree that the culpability primarily rests with the zoo. Whether the parents turned their back for 5 seconds or 5 minutes [which obviously I’m not okay with] there never should have been an opportunity in the first place for anybody – adult or child – to fall into that area with an animal. I’m just as saddened as everybody else at this beautiful creature’s loss, but I can tell you without reservation that had my niece or nephew fallen into that enclosure, I would want their safety and rescue put above all else.

      In general, I’m not a fan of zoos. If people want to observe animals, they should go to the animal’s natural habitat and do it in a safe and organized manner. Capturing and caging animals to put on display is just plain selfish.

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      • Well said, and you’ve captured my thoughts on just about all of this. I’m not a fan of zoos either.

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  2. I think it’s the stupid parents. And I believe they’ve hired someone to do PR now, to do damage control. Friend of mine said on facebook that zoos should be done away with completely. I kind’ve agree. Have conservation agrees, and expand them. Zoos can’t be much fun for animals. That said, it’s a damn shame what happened here, and I think someone should give the parents a damn good spanking.

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    • I’m so glad you raised this issue. The parents should have been watching their child. The zoo admits that you can climb into the enclosure which you shouldn’t be able to. The gorilla should have just been darted with a stun gun. He wasn’t hurting the child. Animals should be free and in the wild, not in zoos unless it’s for their own protection or conservation. We have an open range zoo here in Melbourne where the African animals are free to roam. We view them from a vehicle. You can even sleep amoungst them.

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      • I don’t think Harambe was intentionally hurting the child; he did look to be protecting him. But he was also dragging him (quickly) under water. I saw the video and it’s pretty terrifying. I think the problem is that he could have hurt or killed the boy by his sheer strength, whether he meant to or not. It’s a terrible predicament for the zoo workers. I have no clue whether or not darts work in time; I’ve seen very mixed opinions from experts. That clearly would have been a preferred solution if they did.

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      • Here’s my take. The gorilla is an endangered animal brought into human custody. So the onus is on the protection of the animal. I don’t like the idea where we say anything about the diminished responsibility of the child or the parent or the zoo. The animal actually needs to be protected from contact from human beings, not so much the other way round. The gorilla was killed at the end of the day by the most dangerous species on the planet, I don’t think the child was ultimately injured in any way. So I guess what I’m saying is it’s a damn shame people didn’t get their act together, necessitating the really unnecessary death of this animal. And I hope people recognize that. We can do more and should do more to endure the welfare of endangered animals kept in captivity. The good thing out of all this is that people are talking about gorillas, whereas a week ago no one was even thinking about them.

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      • Absolutely, I agree with this! It has me thinking about when we visited the elephants. What if one of them suddenly tried to attack one of us. What would they have done? As much as I adored that experience, I have to ask the question… (which we’ve talked about) what is appropriate when it comes to the public (not trained rangers) interacting with large and/or potentially dangerous captured animals? It’s a wonderful experience, at a sanctuary (not a zoo) but is it really practical & safe, & fair to the animals?

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      • It’s heartbreaking all around and I agree with you, magnificent creatures like Harambe deserve to live life free in their habitat! Zoos like this one really suck. The animals are bored and lonely and it’s cruel. I much prefer the idea of an open range zoo as you have in your country, if any animal is going to be enclosed. About this incident, I understood much more about the officials decision to shoot him after watching a program on CNN network last night. Sedating the animal with a dart wasn’t an option, unfortunately, because there’s a period of agitation before sedation leaving that option much too dangerous. The little boy actually was hurt, he was hospitalized two days with a concussion. Harambe likely was not purposely harming him, it’s not thought that was the case, but the poor child was being roughed up pretty bad from being drug around. His head was bouncing up and down off concrete as Harambe drug him with break neck speed, and mostly underwater. Once I watched the video on a large screen tv last evening, I understood more about their decision. It was hard to watch. Not the gorillas ‘fault’, but no doubt this was bad and would have gotten worse. It’s still incredibly sad though, the poor old guy deserved none of it, and it shouldn’t have happened. The mother absolutely should have watched her child more closely, but I believe access should never have been a possibility.

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  3. Nope, I only partly agree with you. It’s obvious that the child’s mother was his first line of defense and and she failed him. Agree there. Should her lapse however have resulted in her son managing to fall into a deep water filled moat with a gorilla? No, it shouldn’t! After seeing an artists’ depiction of the three foot fence and the shrubs as the only barrier between visitors and the exhibit, I’m actually even more astonished at this setup. I mean, for a three year old to have no trouble managing this feat…..hmm. As to zoos existing, I don’t think they should. I agree that they’re not fun for the animals, in fact it’s cruel for the animals, and with the technology that exists today, let’s educate children through virtual exhibits instead of real flesh and blood creatures. My point to this topic at hand though is that as long as they DO exist, and people pay the price of admission to visit them, the visit should be a pleasant one and not one ending with a traumatized (and injured) child, nor a dead animal. An exhibit this dangerous should have been completely secured, and not by a three foot fence and some bushes. A lot of parents become distracted. This was too steep a price to pay for that, in my humble opinion.

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  4. Well I’m not sure if it’s normal for a child to crawl into such a dangerous area and then fall into it. Is it normal for a child of 4 to go, oh hey I’ll climb over that? And not see the 7 metre drop? As a kid I never broke a bone, which I think has something to do with spatial skills. Some kids I knew kept breaking their bones, which makes you wonder. If the enclosure was so unsafe, in 17 years I think there would have been many incidents. The moat was the real barrier, and I’d argue any idiot would recognize this, or should, even a very young child.

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    • 4 year olds can get themselves into all sorts of illogical trouble… Running in busy streets, touching a stove burner that’s on, and also climbing in dangerous areas. My brother broke both wrists jumping off a high wall as a kid and he’s not what I consider dumb. He was older than 4. Who knows, maybe this kid just saw the Jungle Book in the movies (which I did too) and thought it would be cool to hang out with the animals. Get rid of zoos. Let the animals live in their natural homes. That’s the solution.

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    • Look, I very much agree that a gorilla kept in this type of captivity is absolutely one of the saddest situations going. I was, and am, just as heartbroken as anyone else that this poor old guy who did nothing wrong as an animal, ended up dead because he had the misfortune of a kid falling in his enclosure. I’m glad we’re having this discussion too, as animals deserve better than a pad of concrete to sit on (yes, some US zoos even lack any grass or natural space) and a confine that’s pathetically small. So, a bigger discussion needs to be had, and I think it will be. As to the incident though. The reality is that there was a zoo, a child did access a dangerous space, and a heartbreaking decision had to be called to save the life of the child. Anderson Cooper of CNN dedicated about half his show last night to this incident, and after hearing actual witnesses to this situation and hearing from zoologists, I don’t think the zoo officials had any other recourse but to shoot Harambe. He was not trying to kill the little boy, but his interaction was undoubtedly harming the child, and they knew it would only be more of the same, or worse. They didn’t have the luxury of waiting and trying any alternative plan. They couldn’t dart him, as agitation initially results from that, and if the child wasn’t killed during that time (even accidentally) there was a definite risk he could fall over on the little boy with the same devastating result. Turns out the child did suffer a concussion, and while that might not sound serious, it actually is. They think that happened as he was being slung around by Harambe, his head bobbing up and down off the concrete. But no, as already discussed, the animal can’t be ‘blamed’ for natural behavior, nor the fact that he was so very huge and exceptionally strong. As to the mother not watching her child closely enough, obviously she didn’t. As to no accident happening in years, it has now, and I stand by my view that this enclosure was designed wrong. As to young kids doing crazy things, they do, and will continue to. He was only three, not four, but either way this age child can just do crazy stuff. They’re curious, and are also lightning fast. I know because I had a few of them lol. He shouldn’t have physically been able to reach the lip of the wall and fall (or jump) over. Just my opinion.

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