Zoo defends Harambe gorilla shooting

Media captionAmateur footage shows the gorilla dragging the boy through the water

The director of a US zoo has defended the decision to shoot a gorilla after a small boy fell into its enclosure.

Thayne Maynard of Cincinnati Zoo said he would make the same call today as the gorilla was agitated and was hurting the four-year-old.

The killing of the male western lowland gorilla, Harambe, has sparked anger.

The boy’s family said in a statement released to US media that he was “doing just fine” and thanked zoo staff for their quick action.

“We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla,” the family are reported as saying.

The child has not been publically identified.

Mr Maynard said it was easy to say things should have been done differently after the incident was over and the child was safe, but people making those criticisms “don’t understand primate biology… and the danger the child was in”.

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Reuters

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Nearly 200,000 people have signed an online petition protesting against Harambe’s killing

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AP

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The zoo hopes to reopen its gorilla world display soon

Video footage of the incident shows the gorilla dragging the child through the moat in its enclosure.

Mr Maynard described how Harambe “swished him around in the water by the ankle” then carried him on to land.

The gorilla “wasn’t trying to eat the child,” he said, “but he was disorientated and wanted to get the child to stay there”.

The screams from the crowd were adding to Harambe’s agitation, the zoo director said.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The 17-year-old male gorilla, Harambe, was brought to the zoo in 2014



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