Replacing Empathy With Superiority

A trending news story right now is a tragic one, as most seem to be these days. In Cincinnati, a 4-year old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the zoo, and after being dragged around by the 400-pound gorilla for 10 minutes, the zoo made the decision to shoot and kill him. The gorilla, not the child.  Much to the general public’s dismay, apparently.

It is a horrible situation, but even more upsetting to me is the public outlash that has taken place since the incident happened. People across the world (and my Facebook newsfeed) are commenting, posting, tweeting, and using any social media platform available to post their disgust. Many are saying things like, “they should have let the boy die, it would teach a lesson to that mother who let him go into the enclosure. It wasn’t the gorilla’s fault.” Some are choosing less blatant remarks and are instead posting memes or sharing articles, devoid of their own commentary but dripping with fury at the zoo’s decision and neglectful mother.

I get that people are pissed, I really do. My first thought after reading the breaking headline was, “how could a parent let that happen?! I can’t believe that poor gorilla was killed.” I feel nauseated thinking about the death of a beautiful and endangered animal because of a parent’s mistake. But the keyword here is mistake. 

Do you not think it was the absolute worst moment of that mother’s life, realizing her child was in the arms of a 400-pound gorilla? Can you imagine watching someone you love in the deathly grip of a predator, being thrown around like a rag doll, and standing by helplessly? Everyone knows how (creepily) obsessed I am with my dog, but if she were for some God-awful reason viciously attacking my nephew or niece, I would not think twice about ending her life to save theirs. A human life, while not on the endangered species list by any means, is worth saving over an animal’s in a life threatening situation. The line may blur for me a little bit if it is a grown adult who jumped into the enclosure (spare the animal?), but this is a child we are talking about. A little person who may still wet the bed on occasion, and is afraid of the dark. A human whose brain is still very undeveloped.

What amazes me is the lack of empathy I have witnessed among the masses. It nauseates me even more than thinking about the death of an animal. I LOVE animals. I would rather see a human killed in a movie than an animal. I admittedly like animals more than 95% of people I’ve met.  It’s not an issue about whether or not we value the life of an animal or human more, it’s about doing what is so obviously right in an impossibly difficult situation. Regardless of how that situation came to fruition.

To those people who are suggesting that the gorilla shouldn’t have been shot: are you suggesting that the zookeepers should have let the situation “play out”? Maybe he kills the boy, maybe he doesn’t? That’s not an option, in my opinion. Not when the life of a 4-year old boy is at stake. Tranquilize him, you say? Imagine how pissed that gorilla would have been if he had gotten shot with a tranquilizer. He would then have several minutes before the sedative took effect– what do you think would have happened to the child?

What is even crazier to me is the amount of angry, hate-spewing people who have children of their own! I don’t believe for one second that any of them would say “let’s just see how this situation plays out” if their child were the one in the gorilla cage. And save your, “I would never let this happen” claims. Not one person I know is without a lapse in judgment or guilty of a purely bad decision from time to time. Sometimes nothing disastrous happens and everyone is very lucky. Sometimes horribly unfortunate circumstances take place.

What happened to empathy? Are all you parents out there completely free from mistakes when it comes to the safety and health of your children? Have none of you ever left your young child watching cartoons while you are showering, in desperate need of a 5-minute break? Because you see, most of the time, it’s fine. Your child, glued to the TV, is right where you left him when you return from the shower. But what if one time, he decided to venture outside. And crossing the street, he got hit by a car. And instead of other humans showing a morsel of empathy for a situation that is tragic and awful, millions of people instead chimed in with, “how could a mom leave her son alone while she showered? She should be killed.”

Think about the parents who have forgotten about a child in a carseat on a hot summer day. A mom who walked away from the bathtub for 3 minutes, and came back to a lifeless child. A dad who forgot to read an ingredient label and gave his child a food containing his severe allergy.

Mistakes happen. They are sometimes preventable, sometimes not. Regardless, they are always easy to judge when it’s not your mistake that took place. And again, if you have the audacity to say, “I would never let this happen”, I pray you have someone to hold your hand and tell you “mistakes happen” when something terrible and preventable happens on your watch someday. When people on the outside are judging and threatening– people who have no connection to your or your family. We are all human. Mistakes happen.

It’s okay to be angry about the gorilla dying. It’s okay to be furious that a mother let her son out of her sight long enough for him to fall into the enclosure. It’s okay to be pissed that the zoo made the decision to shoot the gorilla. It’s okay to feel all these feelings in unison,  and still decide to not say hateful, holier-than-thou things about the people actually involved. The ones who are undoubtedly in mourning today. The zookeepers who lost a beloved animal and friend. The mother who nearly lost a son, and is now facing the harassment of millions of people.

If you’re angry, use that as fuel to incite change. Maybe the zoo should create safer animal enclosures. Maybe gorillas shouldn’t be in zoos at all. Maybe zoo-goers should be required to attend an animal and zoo safety seminar before wandering around the park and large animal exhibits. Maybe kids under 8 should be required to wear one of those backpack leash things? Okay, that one is purely selfish. I secretly love seeing kids on leashes, being walked in public like little rabid Jack Russell Terriers. Whatever you believe, outside of thinking the mom shouldn’t have made a mistake, let that fuel your drive.

A woman who was at the zoo and witnessed the whole incident posted on Facebook yesterday what I believe is an important read:

“My family and I decided to go to the zoo yesterday after visiting my niece at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. For those of you that have already heard, there was a terrible accident there yesterday. And since every news media has covered this story, I don’t feel bad telling our side. This was an accident!! A terrible accident, but just that! My husband’s voice is the voice talking to the child in one of the videos. I was taking a pic of the female gorilla, when my eldest son yells, “what is he doing? ” I looked down, and to my surprise, there was a small child that had apparently, literally “flopped” over the railing, where there was then about 3 feet of ground that the child quickly crawled through!!

I assumed the woman next to me was the mother, getting ready to grab him until she says, “Whose kid is this? ” None of us actually thought he’d go over the nearly 15 foot drop, but he was crawling so fast through the bushes before myself or husband could grab him, he went over! The crowd got a little frantic and the mother was calling for her son. Actually, just prior to him going over, but she couldn’t see him crawling through the bushes! She said “He was right here! I took a pic and his hand was in my back pocket and then gone!”

As she could find him nowhere, she lookes to my husband (already over the railing talking to the child) and asks, “Sir, is he wearing green shorts? ” My husband reluctantly had to tell her yes, when she then nearly had a break down! They are both wanting to go over into the 15 foot drop, when I forbade my husband to do so, and attempted to calm the mother by calling 911 and assure her help was on the way. Neither my husband or the mother would have made that jump without breaking something! I wasn’t leaving with my boys, because I didn’t trust my husband not to jump in and the gorilla did just seem to be protective of the child. It wasn’t until the gorilla became agitated because of the noisy, dramatic, helpless crowd; that the gorilla violently ran with the child! And it was very violent; although I think the gorilla was still trying to protect, we’re taking a 400 lb gorilla throwing a 40 lb toddler around! It was horrific!

The zoo responded very quickly, clearing the area and attempting to save both the child and the gorilla! The right choice was made. Thank God the child survived with non-life threatening, but serious injuries! This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!! This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation! Especially since that had never happened before! ! Thankful for the zoo and their attempts and my thoughts and prayers goes out to this boy, his mother and his family.”

Deidre Lykins

“He was right here! I took a pic and his hand was in my back pocket and then gone!”

We have all been there. We may all be there someday. Practice empathy, not superiority. Practice love, not hate.

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249 thoughts on “Replacing Empathy With Superiority

  1. Courtney, thank you for this article. It most clearly expressed how I felt in response to all the hooplah and reactions I was seeing on social media in response to this Cincinnati Zoo tragedy. I believe your article might have been better titled: Replacing Superiority with Empathy. It is empathy and compassion that we need to see more of in life. Superiority and misjudgment are what need to be replaced. I’ve been personally learning this lesson on so many fronts in life lately (as a Christ follower). All my best to you and I send my prayers for health and sound sleep without sleep walking for you.

  2. Pingback: Replacing Empathy With Superiority – rawburrito

  3. “Think about the parents who have forgotten about a child in a carseat on a hot summer day.” ??? Now I know this author is an idiot, and I don’t need to finish the entire article. She probably also agrees with that reporter who gave the tip to “leave something important like a cell phone in the backseat” to remember your kid. She is just as bad as the mom at the zoo. I’m an Auntie to 11 nieces and nephews, they may not be mine, but they are still ALWAYS a priority. Nobody is perfect, but there is also a thing called COMMON SENSE.

    • Oh come on, cut me some slack!! It’s so easy to forget about the baby in her car seat because the Benadryl I give her to ensure a quiet car ride works so well. She doesn’t move or make a peep for hours! I agree, leaving a phone in the backseat is lame. I can’t text while driving that way, am I right?? I’ve just started putting her on the floor of the passenger side. It’s like a perfect little playpen, she loves it! Now I almost never forget to take her inside at night.

    • Something to reflect “the greatness of a nation, civilization and it’s moral progress can be judge by the way it’s animals are treated” Gandhi

      • We should capture these wild beasts and keep them in tiny enclosures, then dangle carrots in front of them,
        but then shoot them if/when they get too close!!!

      • its not that hard at all to remember your own kid in the back seat… if it is hard then you shouldnt be a parent PERIOD

    • Couldn’t agree more Desiroo, nobody is perfect but priority is the children under no circumstances, even if have to put your own life to spare the child’s. Those parents should have jumped in but they just stand there calling out to the child. As for the car seat issues, again I agree. A child in the back seat is not like the petrol that needs filling, or the car alarm that tells you you’ve left your keys inside, this is a child who is supposed to be the number one in any parent’s head, and should never be compared to the insignificant stuff – so no excuses whatsoever, even if tired, even if unwell – no excuses. We have children because we can and we put them first above anything in this world, if they’re not, then you weren’t meant to have kids in the first place.

      • Jumped in? That’s a horrible idea it would have put the child in more danger and agitated the gorilla more! If you have never made any mistake in your life then you could not possibly empathize but I know that you have. Parents are human. They screw up. Maybe she was not paying as much attention maybe she was distracted by her baby or her phone. But it happens we all screw up. Your phone rings your baby cries you look away. Next time you screw up stop and think of all the things that could happen because of your screw up. You swerved in the car with your kid you both could have died. You accidentally left cleaner on the table and your baby almost drank it. Does that make you a bad parent no it makes you human.

    • I just can’t let this go. Do you seriously think that the vast majority of parents who make these costly mistakes don’t go through horrific feelings of guilt, remorse, and unending pain. We have six daughters and eight grandchildren and but for the Grace of God this could have been us. Hopefully you never have a bad day, make a mistake driving or even walking, cause and accident resulting in the death of some innocent person. By your standard, being human deserves life in prison! I pray your perfection will continue forever because the alternative is not what you want.

  4. From where I sit I don’t know if the boy was being hurt or in danger. I think it would be easier to “judge” what to do if the video was better.

    I’m sorry, but Courtney’s opinion was so long. It could have been much more effective if cut down to a couple of paragraphs.

  5. We can empathize with the family while still holding it the most responsible for what happened to this child. Children fall out of windows in the summer every day. Almost always accidents. Families are responsible and DCFS will investigate. The fact that police is talking w the family doesn’t mean they are criminalizing the family. People being outraged at the family that a beautiful animal died is also nothing out of the ordinary, as long as they don’t become violent or threatening to this very fortunate family. Yes it was an accident. Accidents have consequences and contributing factors. An endangered animal lost his life due to human negligence. Let’s reflect on that rather than jump to any human’s defense. No, extinction is not okay to preserve individual Homo sapiens at all costs. Obviously we should be blaming the criminal poachers and warlords and industrial deforesters and all of us for consumer choices that are contributing to the terrible plight of gorillas.

    Human actions are very difficult to predict, esp toddlers. Zoo isn’t at fault for designing an enclosure that for the most part did a good job in several decades. Let’s stop using 20/20 hindsight to blame zoo architects. Of all people, the parents are the most contributory to this tragedy. We can empathize them, we shouldn’t criminalize them, but also not let them off the hook. They should not be suing the zoo.

  6. It’s amazing how so many of you completely missed the point of this article. Did you even read it? Or did you just skip down to the comments to regurgitate the your opinion on the matter that you’ve, no doubt, already done dozens of times?

    The most shocking revelation to me is that there are so many perfect parents out there along with scores of experts on gorilla behavior and dangerous animal protocols. Who knew?!

    The incident itself was a tragedy but the discussion surrounding it is what makes me lose faith in humanity.

      • Thank you for this. I am horrified by the people who want the mom arrested and would have preferred the gorilla not be killed. I love animals too, but all parents make mistakes. Our children do not come with instruction books!

  7. Here is a hypothetical: A 4 year old child is at a park and sees an ice cream truck pull in at the other side of the busy parking lot. She tells her dad, I want ice cream! I’m going to get ice cream! Her father says firmly, “Oh no you’re not. You’re NOT getting any ice cream.” He looks and doesn’t any fencing- just a small wall- and then he just turns away to do something else. It is that surprising when the 4 year old takes off, clears the wall, and runs right out into the parking lot…? Does anyone who had, has or has watched any typical 4 year old think that the father’s response was smart, effective or safe?

    • I wouldn’t think the response is acceptable. Anyone who has kids, step kids, watches kids, just been around kids should know that they don’t always do what they are told. Especially a 3-4 year old. As a parent you also know your child if they are going to listen or take off. You make sure they are away from the dangerous situation, are listening, and in your eye sight. Not just say no than walk away or turn your back to do something else.

  8. This entire event is tragic, for the child, mother, gorilla, spectators and the zoo. The child’s well being and safety takes priority, I feel everyone believes that. But killing the gorilla was also very tragic; even if the zoo felt it was the only option to this situation. I have seen other places that were extremely dangerous like Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, you could take a elevator to top of the falls; they had a viewing area that was fenced relatively high. I could not believe how many parents let their small children climb that fence that was next to a high dropoff. They were not even near the children, I would have held the child in my arms or held their hand. With the gorilla enclosure being open and having a high drop off, barrier or not , I would have had that child’s hand or held them. I do feel the horror the mother must have felt with her child’s life being in danger. I know she wished she did things differently. When tragedies like these happen, everyone wants answers, everyone responds from emotions. I am thrilled the child is safe, but I am deeply devastated the gorilla lost his life; this is a tragedy. I have to agree with the man that stated animals should not be caged and confined for our enjoyment; but live free in a safe protected environment.

    • Often zoos serve as rehab facilities for animals. They have vets and caretakers helping animals that for whatever reasons may not be suitable to be in the wild. They conduct research. They also educate people, hopefully, and not just entertain children. For critically endangered animals, zoos may be the last place where a few individuals are safe. The political situations where some of these wild animals are native are extremely volatile that establishing safe natural sanctuary for them is impossible. Warlords too busy killing people and animal habitat that are in the way. Let’s not blame zoos, but condemn poachers and warlords that occupy the lands where these animals are from. A lot of zoo animals are born in zoos and would not survive for a second in the wild. If they are endangered, releasing them to the wild would be utterly irresponsible.

  9. I do have empathy for this mother. I can’t imagine turning around and in a split second my child is missing just to find out he/she was trapped in the gorilla habitat and being dragged around. I disagree with all these people who are calling her horrible names and saying terrible things about this family, especially a 3 year old boy. I have read some horrific comments. Who are you to call a 3 year old boy (you have not even met) a brat or another comment I read referred to the family as apes and they should be the ones shot. That is ridiculous and I don’t know why anyone would think it’s okay to say something like that. However, just because I’m not going to stoop to a lower level and say inappropriate and unnecessary comments, I can and do feel like some of the fault is on the mother. It just seems so bizarre that a child was able to get away from his mother, climb a wall, crawl through bushes, fall into the water of a gorilla habitat and she didn’t notice he was gone till after he was already down there. This is way different than jumping in the shower for 5 minutes and your kid getting into some trouble around the house. She knew it was an open habitat. She knew there were wild animals around. She should have been more aware of the dangers and supervised her child more. Plus, there are 2 different stories going around (that I have heard) 1. She was just taking a picture and her son was gone in a split second 2. She was attending to another child who was crying. Well which is it? Think about this.. If this mother was at work and she allowed her nanny or babysitter to take the kids to the zoo and this happened would she say the same thing? It was a mistake. Accidents happen and kids into trouble sometimes. Probably not. The nanny/babysitter would probably be fired and most likely sued along with the zoo. We shouldn’t be saying such hurtful judgemental things, but we can’t just chalk it up to “just a mistake, accidents happen” Someone has to take responsibility and everything isn’t black and work.

    • The post from the bystander says that she was watching him…she said that it happened so fast that before they could get to him, he had fallen. Now, how did he get away in the first place is a good question but again, “mistakes” do happen. Kids at that age do things so fast, faster than we can keep up. But that doesn’t make parents neglectful. Just makes us human…

      • There were other witnesses that said she didn’t even know where he was. If she was watching him she should have know where he was. And she has stated 2 different times.. she was taking a picture and another time she was attending to her daughter.

      • How he got away in the first place is a good question.. Maybe she was taking a picture or maybe she was attending to another child, but than she wasn’t watching him and that is neglectful. She knew she was going to the zoo with that many children. If she couldn’t keep an eye on them all she shouldn’t have gone, or don’t take all the kids, at the very least take someone with her for extra help.

        • wow has no parent ever lost their child in a store??? it happens all the time they have a special code for it code ADAM. parents of just one child lose their child parents of more than one child lose their child ..Neglect??No human can keep their eyes one one child at all times it is impossible. They are very fast and determined when they get their minds on something. For all those judging be careful of your glass house.

          • It’s about what she was doing when she took her eyes off the boy. She has changed her story from taking a selfie to attending to another child. Depending on which is true makes a big difference. One is very neglectful. And I’m not judging her. Kids are fast and accidents do happen, but she can’t say she has no fault at all. Take responsibility for her part.

            • I had heard a true story about a family where the mom was leaving to go to work, the father walked her out to say goodbye and when she pulled out of the driveway she ran her son over and he died. Neither parent had realized that the door was cracked when they left the house, or that their child got out, they never seen him. I know that when you take your small children to places that are hazardous such as a open gorilla habitat with a dangerous drop off, even if it had a barrier, the child should have been held rather by the hand or in the arms to prevent any accidents. I know barriers and fences to some individuals feels that they are protected and secure; but in this case it obviously was’nt. Surely the mother feels horrid and wishes she did things differently. Fortunately her child has been given another chance, unfortunately for the gorilla he didnt get another chance.

          • Of all people involved, the family is the most responsible. Not the zoo. I don’t think they are criminal, and their mistake could happen to anyone probably. However, compared to everyone else, the family bears the greatest responsibility. Even as we empathize with them, we can also hold the duality in our minds that they should not be entirely exonerated of all responsibility. They are the main cause behind this tragedy and if people are angry at them, that is a normal response. People shouldn’t threaten this family or get violent with them, but if people on the Internet are saying stuff we should understand why they are upset. An animal died!

            • And just how should we punish them? And just who are you referring to – the mother and child, or also the father (reformed, but with a criminal past) who actually wasn’t even there. Let us not also forget the racist insults and death wishes spewed at the family, after their racial identity became known. For a simple human (male, female, black, white, asian, etc) error of losing track of a child for a moment, just like millions of other adults do daily, many now ask for their lives, their jobs to be taken away, or that they should be locked up and their children taken away! How self-centered, conceited, and unforgiving we have become in our “love” of animals and the power of attacking others via the internet.

  10. I have one thing to say. I would love to follow all those people blaming this mother for one week! Just one week! And then judge all your parental skills! Im guessing that would be a REALLY good show 🙂 shame on all of you! Lets hope you don’t take your judgemental eyes of your children in any waking second for the next how many years! And lets pray that you are never in a situation where a potential life threatening event ever unfolds!

    • Ate you new? The Parents are to blame. I could just as easily be reading about a child abduction at the Cincinnati Zoo right now instead of reading about PARENTS neglecting to watch their children. I agree with Jeff Corwin, ZOOS ARE NOT YOUR BABYSITTER. If you can’t be a parent to your children, stop having them! The parents should be charged with neglect. ESPECIALLY since reading that the child TOLD his mother that he was going to go into the enclosure to “play in the water.” The Zoo shares some responsibility also for a toddler to get into an exhibit so easily

  11. This was a roller coaster of events not just one person or the other is to blame. Your children are ultimately your responsibility, as a parent. I surely hope that the parents aren’t suing because it was they who decided to take the risk to begin with by entering that zoo and letting their child being unattended mistake or not. That being said this is a place where children visit all the time, it should have been full proof or nearly full proof for a child of that size to get into. This was just a 4 year old, imagine what a 8 or 10 year old could do to get in. Maybe they need more zookeepers around to watch for these sorts of things also. Nobody is perfect in this situation and it’s just sad that something like this had to take place before lessons could be learned.

    • In decades of operation of this exhibit, this zoo has never had an incident like this before. Zoo people are not clairvoyant. They cannot possibly imagine every contingency. If we call for empathy, why not also call for empathy for all the zoo workers? I empathize with them more than with the family. The family is not necessarily bad people, just saying that they bear greater responsibility than the zoo.

      • Exactly decades. Times change and so do people and so do exhibits and the surroundings. I took my children to a zoo just recently that they were remodeling. As I say again the parents are ultimately the ones responsible of the child.

  12. to all the people who say the gorilla didn’t deserve to die, maybe it didn’t. But if it were my child in there with the gorilla, it would certainly have been worth killing it. I’m sure if it were your child, you would say the same. Got off your high-horse and have some decency and empathy.

  13. My empathy is with the animal. And the zoo officials and care takers. Keep your Brats out of the Habitats . Mom was a child care worker, not just a mom. This was a captive breed gorilla and therefor would not have behaved as a regular silverback . I have no empathy for the mom or the brat that did is he was toled not to. But then like father like son. Criminals raise criminals .

    • Even if the animal had not been behaving as a regular silverback, you have to keep in mind that he weighs 400 pounds. An animal that size can unintentionally injure or even kill a small child even if it’s not acting aggressively.

      • Ate you new? The Parents are to blame. I could just as easily be reading about a child abduction at the Cincinnati Zoo right now instead of reading about PARENTS neglecting to watch their children. I agree with Jeff Corwin, ZOOS ARE NOT YOUR BABYSITTER. If you can’t be a parent to your children, stop having them! The parents should be charged with neglect. ESPECIALLY since reading that the child TOLD his mother that he was going to go into the enclosure to “play in the water.” The Zoo shares some responsibility also for a toddler to get into an exhibit so easily

    • Do you actually believe a 4 year old is capable of controlling their impulses to the degree they will automatically do as they are told? Do you honestly believe a 4 year old child’s behavior is directly related to his father’s past? Please cite the studies that have the data to back up your claims. I will happily give you links to some child development sites/books that will say that that four year old was appropriately acting his age. And, his father’s past is just that, in the past, therefore it has no bearing on the child now, in this moment.

      • Im sorry but at 4 year old child knows the difference between right and wrong. Yes and no. When the kid joked about going in the water the mom should have made sure to keep am even better eye on that child and the kid should not better when the mom says no. Either way should should have had her eyes on the kid at all times.

        • And I’m sure when they saw the giraffes he said, “I want to ride the giraffe!” And when they saw the Tigers he said “I want to pet the tiger.” He’s four. Developmentally speaking, most four year olds don’t understand serious consequences or cause and effect.

    • Just a question. Do you have kids (brats as you call them). Because I have a feeling you dont. Please remember you are here because you were a brat once.

    • I am glad that you have always done as you were told. I believe you are the only one.
      You obviously missed the point of the article

    • You have no idea what you are talking about, or you have never raised a child. Children sometimes do things so quickly that no one can do anything about it. Keep your uninformed comments to yourself. By the way learn how to spell, as in captive breed, should have been captive bred. Did is he was toled, should be did as he was told. So you see, everyone does make mistakes. Even you.

      This is my opinion and only my opinion, but anyone that puts an animals life above that of a human is truly ignorant.

      • A common sense thinker. what makes us so special?. Thinking that we are somehow superior to animals is what is destroying their habitat and this world. We should see animals as what they are: very valuable . Did you know that bees( a such small animal) were to disappear humans wouldn’t be able to survive. But I don’t mind that they should have let the kid died. I agree with the decision but it is still very sad. I don’t agree with this article in the sense that it kind of implies that it was all a big mistake and thats it ( upps) because we should concern ourselves in way of making this situations stops.

    • You have no idea what you are talking about, or you have never raised a child. Children sometimes do things so quickly that no one can do anything about it. Keep your uninformed comments to yourself. By the way learn how to spell, as in captive breed, should have been captive bred. Did is he was toled, should be did as he was told. So you see, everyone does make mistakes. Even you.

      Unless you are trained in animal behavioral sciences then you have no idea what the gorilla would do if he was tranquillized. Even then no one knows for sure. I do know this, if by some unlucky happenstance, my child was in enclosure with any wild animal capable of doing harm such as that gorilla, I would shoot first and then worry about the consequences.

      This is my opinion and only my opinion, but anyone that puts an animals life above that of a human is truly ignorant.

      • The issue here is not just an animal life vs. a human life. A silverback is critically endangered. There are 7 billion Homo sapiens. I wouldn’t care as much if an olive baboon was killed to save a person. This situation is more emotionally charged. Our values regarding life do need to be adjusted a bit when it’s a member of a species whose soon pending extinction was caused by us.

  14. This is a TRAGEDY. It’s tragic that we even keep wild animals in pens for onlookers to gaze at. It’s tragic that a majestic but endangered animal lost his life this way. It’s tragic that a mother lost track of her child in a potentially dangerous area. It’s tragic that the zoo is blamed for the death. It’s tragic that 2 other mothers tried to stop the child before the mother even knew the child was missing. It’s tragic that the mother has not accepted the responsibility for the animal’s death. The mother is being investigated for child abuse (neglect leading to endangerment), but likely will not be charged. I am reserving judgement on the mother until I know she hasn’t tried to sue the zoo. Tragic. Simply tragic.

  15. I just think experimentation with animals and these situations needs to take place, prevention, and tested prior to the emergency situation. A zookeeper is being attacked, if tranquilized wouldn’t that shot distract the animal and then they would react to that, release the person or distract them enough to alter the situation.

    I don’t know the answer but I believe that when dealing with wild life all avenues need to be explored in case of an emergencies like this.

    Accidents are just that accidents, but hopefully those in higher power can see to explore other means then killing.

  16. How can anyone be blaming this mom if the zoo had the proper enclosure the child would have never been able to get in the enclosure in the first place. Stop blaming the mom!

    • It was an open enclosure exhibit. With that type of exhibit comes some risk. It’s the responsibility of the adult to weigh the dangers of that risk, decide whether or not it’s worth it and, if it is, take the precautions necessary to keep the children safe. It is not the zoo’s fault this woman A. didn’t think of the risks involved, or B. she did but felt it wasn’t a problem and C. did not take her son seriously when he told her he was going to go swim with the gorilla. It was her poor judgement, not the zoo’s, that knocked that first domino down. Still, it doesn’t mean she deserves the wrath of the internet. And I too hope it is only a rumor that she is going to sue the zoo because no one should be rewarded for their lack of judgement. I hope she is spending the days reflecting, forgiving herself and then getting her son proper treatment for the concussion he suffered (those are not to be taking lightly, they can lead to permanent brain damage and learning disabilities).

    • Yes the zoo should have .But the zoo also should have an emergency plan if something like this does happen. Why did they not shot the animal with a Tranquilizer ? You have to put most of the blame on the Parents for letting this happen,no matter how much barrier was in place. But I think the zoo is at fualt for the kill of this Majestic creature.

      • The reason they didn’t use a tranquilizer gun has been explained in every article written about the event. Remember, Google is your friend. 😉

    • Stop blaming the zoo! In decades of operation of this enclosure something like this has never happened before. Are zoo people supposed to be clairvoyant?

      Maybe mom doesn’t deserve the vitriol she might be getting, but she is more responsible than the zoo when it comes to the safety of the child. The victims in this story in decreasing importance would be 1) the gorilla 2) the child 3) people working at the zoo and at the very end is 4) the family. Of all players, the family is the most responsible. We can empathize with them while not exonerating them completely.

  17. While I agree that the zoo did the right thing – they couldn’t risk the gorilla killing the boy – I need to point out that his mother is, indeed, at fault. The boy didn’t fall into the enclosure. He climbed over the barrier and crawled through the grass and bushes until he fell into the water. That is completely different than him falling in. And he told her several times he wanted to go into the water so she had plenty of warning. I heard that this family is now suing the zoo and I really hope that is just a vicious rumor. Their son did something wrong which could have been prevented. The zoo killed an animal to protect the boy. Isn’t that enough?

    • Ty said and thought the same thing. SMH now they will be sued? The mother of rude child is an idiot. Tg the child is OK……parents need to keep an eye in there children more closely to avoid this situation! All i’m saying

  18. Thank you my friend for writing this. You have put into words what I have felt and have been unable to express. I think there is more than you would think, who feel the way we do. Thank you for being brave enough to say it. The internet provides all to well a platform for people to try to build their own ego, by sitting in judgement of others. This has never sat well with me. So many could benefit with some writing in the sand.

    • How about tranking(a tranquilizer gun)on the gorilla! And why did it take 10 minutes to make a decision?
      What am I missing here.

      • I did read that in the agitated state that the gorilla was in, if they would have shot him with a tranquilizer A) they don’t know how he would have reacted to being shot and B) as hyped up as he was from all the screaming, it would have taken several minutes for him to be knocked out. I read that they deemed it too dangerous for the child… worried the gorilla would become hostile.

    • That’s like blaming a store for having a parking lot when your kid runs out into it and gets hit by a car because you, the parent, weren’t holding his or her hand.

    • Exactly thank you I am so sick of people blaming the mom when if they had the proper enclosure this could never have happened.

  19. I haven’t seen this much arrogance in a long time. It is the classic; “Hindsight is 20/20”. Someone should have done this, they should have done that, they should have, should have, should have.

    NO ONE, was in the moment – but her (knowing what she heard, what she saw, what she was experiencing).

    NO ONE knows the full history of the family dynamic.

    NO ONE knows if she heard the first request.

    NO ONE knew if she heard either request (or, did she and she said “no” – and of course ALL kids always accept “NO” for an answer). Or did she just “ignore”, (which parents never do – even good ones).

    It is the apparent pious, “I would have never done that” attitude that galls me. You don’t KNOW that. You weren’t “in the moment”. Typical revisionist history approach.

    Humans make mistakes. Period. MAYBE you all that are being so judgemental, MIGHT have not done the same thing. But I bet if you look hard enough into how many instances there were like circumstances, that you did, you just might be surprised and your fallible moment.

    • This is not an either/or issue. It is easy to have compassion for this woman and at the same time feel she didn’t think of the dangers around for her children to get into. And just because it’s a mistake doesn’t mean she wasn’t irresponsible and lacked judgement at that particular moment. Again, she should not be vilified, she is not a criminal, but she definitely needs some parenting classes and should be barred from suing the zoo in order to make a profit off of her poor decision making skills. Also, believing this woman is somewhat responsible for what transpired is not arrogance given the facts – the child told her twice he was going to swim with the gorilla and then she made the poor decision of thinking a “No you won’t” would stop him. She has to live with that for the rest of her life, something every parent dreads.

      • I appreciate you stating that she shouldn’t be vilified. That is my main point. In our humanity, mistakes occur. Even with the best of intent, or attentiveness. I have seen time after time, people spouting, they wouldn’t have let this happen, or she should have known. That’s all I’m saying. No manner of hindsight analysis will discern that it could have been avoided – because, things do happen, in an instant. Then a series of instances lead to catastrophe. It is our society’s clamoring for finding someone to blame, that triggers this type of feeding frenzy of presumption, and vilification.

        I do believe in accountability. However, I seen many applications of punishment for accountability, skewed by greed, grief or any number of emotions. And guess what – there will NEVER BE unanimous consensus on said punishment.

        My belief? Be diligent. Do what you can. ASK FOR HELP!!! (one thing that is often ignored – because of the very dangers you may be asking for help from).

        The zoo is providing a service. The public wants to see things unencumbered. They comply, people try to hold the zoo responsible.

        Parenting, a lot has already been written about the woulda, coulda, shoulda. I wont drone on about that.

        There is contributory negligence a plenty in this situation. Why didn’t bystanders make moves to help, instead of watch on? (oh, those individuals don’t want to be thought of a potential predators).

        So; this is a sad, sad, sad, situation. Many things contributed. There is no single person to blame. Just my opine.

  20. One can have empathy for this woman and find her responsible for what happened at the same time. Lord knows I wouldn’t want to live with the guilt that something like this would create, but, I also feel that because she thought a simple, “No you’re not.” was going to stop a 4 year old from doing something they had set their mind to that she bears some responsibility. She should not be charged with anything, but she should have to attend some parenting classes and not be able to profit off of her lack of judgement by suing the zoo.

  21. Pingback: READ: Best article on the killing of #Harambe the gorilla at #CincinnatiZoo -

  22. I’m a parent and I hate to judge other parents but there is one fact that makes me feel the mom is somewhat responsible for what happened. Her son told her he was going to go in the water. Not once, but twice. As a parent, that alone would be enough for me to grab his hand and not let go. When my kids were little I would have them grab my back pocket, but I would never do that after they told me they wanted to do something dangerous. Seriously, it’s just common sense. And just because I believe this woman dropped the ball doesn’t mean I don’t have empathy for her – it’s the quite opposite because this is a horrible way to learn that with this particular child you can’t let your guard down, ever. She has to live with that the rest of her life and every parent knows how awful that feels.

    • There were multiple eyewitness reports saying the kid was sitting on the railing while she took pics. Add to that her FB post after the incident of her defending how “accidents happen” and one ounce of remorse that an endangered animal had to be shot and killed due to her “accident.” Yes, accidents happen but this was tragic. All due to an unapologetic bitch that didn’t watch her crotch fruit.

    • Everyone can pop off and say unpleasant things but the bottom line is, if this was your child, would you want the gorilla to kill your kid? No you wouldnt, no matter if you were responsible. I ask again, do you think your child should be harmed or kill because of a mistake you made. No one is concerned about the little boy, he is probably traumatized. I luke animaks, but I dont value any anim.al life over a human

      • No where did I say or imply that the gorilla should have been allowed to kill this child. The zoo did the right thing, the issue is that it didn’t have to happen. And I am very concerned for that little boy, not only because of the traumatic experience he endured, but the fact that his mom blew off the concussion he suffered as though it’s no big deal (see her facebook post), when in reality a concussion can lead to possible brain damage and permanent learning disabilities.

  23. Well here goes another opinion in the long list of comments left. First let me say that in the comparison of “forgetting” your child in a hot car there is none. I am a mother of 3 children and I have never “forgotten” my child. Now with that being said we all as parents have moments where we look away and something yes could happen. I also have taken my kids to the zoo several times and my kids never ended up in any exhibit (although at times I contemplated leaving them there as an exhibit). I am not understanding why the mother did not access the same things we did that the enclosure was not adequate. Perhaps even why did someone else notice her son “flop” over the rail and all the while they are looking around for his mother and she is nowhere to be found? These are just some of the questions I have. The next would be that you suggest that the mother could have never went down 12 ft (not significant height) without breaking a bone but yet the toddler did. As a mother the only thing I see wrong with this picture is that the mother and yes even your husband thought of their own injury and welfare before the safety of the child. I would have went in after my child EVEN IF it meant the gorilla could have killed me or I might have “broken” a bone. Now it is easy to say this with hindsight, however as a mother your first instinct is to protect your child at ALL costs. We do not know what the outcome would have been, nor should we suggest that the zoo should have “let it play out” that is ridiculous and absurd. The zoo who are in contact with these animals everyday and professionals made the decision they felt is right and I trust their decision. This is a sad situation for everyone who is involved and maybe we all (zoo, public, mother, son, etc.) can learn something from this horrific incident. By the way… if I left my child unattended while showering and he ventured outside and got hit, I would according to state law be charged with child neglect as well as the person who hit the child would be charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter… Your comparisons cause much grief.

    • First of all, just because you have never forgotten your child does not mean that it could not or would not happen. That’s the very attitude of superiority the writer is cautioning against.

      Second, it is absolutely not true that the mother “was nowhere to be found.” If you read the actual post, there is account given by an eyewitness, who states that the mother was right there, calling for her child, as the child was rapidly crawling through the 3 feet of bushes before the 15-foot drop.

      Third, someone else did notice her son flop over the rail, and said he was moving so fast that neither she nor her husband, who were right there, could reach him before he hit the drop.

      Fourth, you would have went into the enclosure after the child, despite the risks. Great. Then the gorilla would have become agitated, and likely would have killed both you and the child. How is that a better choice, or an example of better parenting? The mother seemed to realize that the gorilla was becoming agitated by the crowd, which was screaming and yelling. Perhaps her protective instinct allowed her to analyze the situation better (despite her initial instinct to jump in after the child), and do exactly what she did–try to stay calm, try to calm the rest of the crowd, and to attempt to reassure her child by saying she was there.

      Fifth, a more apt comparison would be if you were walking in a parking lot, holding your child’s hand, and your child suddenly let go of your hand and ran after something, right into the path of a car, which hit your child. Things happen. Kids are spontaneous and quick. Please get off your moral high horse, learn the actual facts of the case, and attempt to have some empathy for this poor woman, who, by all accounts, did not do anything wrong.

  24. Great message and perspective in this piece. I think the only thing I would add is that before using your anger to incite change, use your anger to learn as much as possible about the safety processes and relevant policies already in place. Dispassionate risk analysis yields better results than knee-jerk reactions, especially to high severity, low probability events.

  25. The overly negative response to this tragic event at the Cincinnati zoo does not surprise me. In the responses are truly heartfelt sentiments from people who love both children and animals. But then, as with most things in the anonymity of this internet age, there are those who see opportunity to be hateful in the midst of tragedy. Unlike a number of other similar zoo incidents involving children, this one has seen the child’s parents vilified. There’s at least one media outlet to post about the father’s having a criminal past because that has what to do with what? In other such zoo incidents the family’s name, background are never known but here they’re being dragged out by a virtual lynch mob. Then there’s the racist commentary that’s both intertwined with that but no less expressed directly because opportunity strikes and the worst among us, those seething with hate normally veiled in polite society… let rip online. Anytime anyone tells you racism is dead point them to oh, just about anything because this zoo incident is but ONE example. Beyond that though, I am not about to go and excuse the mother in this situation as so many are happily doing. Nope. This notion that people should get an automatic pass because well, accidents happen! Is complete and utter nonsense. Drag up all the non-zoo comparisons you want, not valid here. Let’s stick to zoos shall we? I am a parent, I took my toddler boy to the zoo as many other parents have and do day in and day out, week after week, month, year and so on. Tons of parents take their toddler children to zoos daily and manage to keep them out of animal enclosures! How is that possible? I’ve seen the excuse made that …well, some kids are more rambunctious maybe you have a nice and quiet one. Yes, me and hundreds of thousands of other parents whose children have failed to hurtle themselves inside zoo exhibits… just have easily managed kids with zero energy. WRONG! The vast majority of kids are all pinging off the wall, little escape artists of curiosity and no fear. So how do so many parents keep them safe in zoos? Why don’t we have these accidents more often than not? In a word, vigilance. You see, a rambunctious toddler doesn’t just magically become that way and parents tend to know how their kids are. And even those who feel they have a mostly quiet, passive child will still be watchful (or should be) in potentially dangerous environments like zoos because you never know when that combination of youthful energy, curiosity and lack of fear will popup and your toddler makes a beeline for trouble. So no, I will not provide a convenient out for any parent and it’s not because I’m the perfect parent or superior (I’m so not) but at keeping my child safe in zoos? I am a full on 100% pro at that and given that so many other parents of toddlers have managed to do the same shows I’m not alone. I am so very tired of people who want to be excused from their own failings, their own lack of accountability and have the notion that zoos and the world should be made maximally safe so they don’t have to be on point and protect their children when you know… they just want to snap a photo, send a text, ignore their damn responsibilities for just a second or two. There’s not enough safeguards in the world to guard against stupid let alone willful stupid. For the love of animals in zoos and children everwhere… if you are a parent you are that 24/7/365 no matter what. No excuses, no expectations of some village raising your child and making their world safe… that’s your job, just do it.

    • Agree 100%
      As a parent you know your kids, and no two are the same. This kid has propably been jumping fences and doing what he is told not too all of his 4 years. And the parent has allowed it…..and a gorilla is now dead. All of my 5ft self would have jumped after my child in a heart beat, no time for “mommy loves you”!

        • Courtney, I’m curious, do you have children? I’m not trying to be snarky but Eneida and others are correct when they say you would know what your child is capable of by the time they’re 4. And it’s easy to surmise this was not his first time being adventurous precisely because he’s 4 years old. The vilification of this woman is shameful, but that doesn’t absolve her of her parental responsibilities. She was at a zoo exhibit that had an open enclosure (not at a Walmart or the neighborhood park) with a child that is adventurous and has no fear, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you have to be hyper vigilant as a parent in that situation. But, it also doesn’t mean she’s a criminal and that her husbands past should be brought up (totally uncalled for, imho). However, just because it was a mistake it doesn’t exonerate her from the consequences of making that mistake. Now, if we could only get everyone up in arms over the parents that leave their loaded guns around for their young children to pick up and play with (and either kill the parent, themselves or another child) – that would be progress. And before anyone accuses me of being a leftist anti-gun hippie, yadda yadda yadda, I am anti stupid people owning guns. Nothing wrong with that.

        • Courtney,
          With all respect, I don’t know gorillas, except for the incredibly magnificent creatures that they are. But as a parent and as an educator, I do know children. Unfortunately, I also know good and bad parenting. Parenthood is the toughest job anyone can have in their entire lives and not everyone should apply.

          • Unfortunately, there is no test. Just the ability to procreate. And sometimes, without the intent of conception.

    • Thank you!!
      I would love to go to the same zoo and see the gorillas just as they are today and not with additional new fences and barriers due to this incident.

  26. Thank you so much for writing this!!!!! I agree with every single word in this article! For everyone throwing hate and wishing harm on this woman and her family, what does that say about you. If you wish harm on these people, instead of sympathy and compassion, then your crime outweighs her mistake!

  27. I love animals too. They taste great in my burger or underneath the tires of my SUV. Any one who would suggest that the life of an animal is worth more than any human being is an imbecile.

  28. How many people type out an opinion and then go grab a bucket of fried chicken, a burger, or just go for a drive in a car upholstered in rich Corinthian leather? The real story here is one of hypocrisy. One of arbitrarily assigning more of less value to animals based entirely on cultural values or personal biases/interests. Human life is human life. Animal life is animal life. I understand that as humans we are sentimental and easily become attached to animals. But the fact is that they are still animals and we need to be reminded of this from time to time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cow, a chicken, a monkey, a dolphin, or a rat in your attic. I don’t know if people are just too far removed from nature, or they spend too much time watching cartoons, but this whole debate is a perfect illustration of just how warped we have become as society. Zero empathy for each other and a totally unrealistic view of the natural world. They were right to shoot the gorilla. Period.

  29. 8 seconds. That’s the about the time it takes for someone to take their camera out of a bag for example. I’d love to see what your kid could do in that time…. yes, even if he/she is the most well-behaved child on this planet. Kids are kids and accidents happen! When was the last time you went to the mall without a kid getting lost. Just think about it. It sucks big time for the gorilla but at the end of the day, the kid is safe and sound. Thank God. Here’s a very similar post i enjoyed : http://bit.ly/1ZbLrqc

    • And whi the Hell asked you to keep the Gorilla in enclosure when you can’t guarantee its life?
      You can’t guarantee life of neither an innocent child nor innocent gorilla. Shouldn’t we call you careless killers?
      Put your loved ones in the lap of every animal thats alive and shoot them all. This will prove how much you love your keens. If you love them, learn to leave them at home, in enclosure. They need it more than very much capable gorilla.

  30. It’s all very sad. This isn’t a white or black issue, happens to all races. But when you bring your 3 year old to a zoo, and stand in front of gorillas, for heavens sake, ALL your attention at that moment in time , needs to be focused on that child. If you can’t do this, don’t go. It’s very simple. He is your responsibility and your life, you only get one chance.

    • As a parent you truly do not anticipate (in this day and age) that your zoo wouldn’t have child-proofed the animals’ enclosures. A small curious child wants to see what everyone else can see. Bushes and a 3 foot barrier??? Once your 4 year old, averaging 37-46″ in height, in a crowd of much taller people enters a bed of shrubs…it would be easy to lose sight of your child under those circumstances. Small children are quick, curious, and fearless! This was a very unfortunate incident that could’ve been much, much worse. I hope our zoos will think more logically about protecting both the welfare of the animals they keep AND more importantly the safety of small, curious visitors. Thank God this child wasn’t killed! He surely will suffer mentally and emotionally…and I will not be surprised (although saddened) when the lawsuit hits the headlines.

      • It was an open enclosure exhibit and this woman showed an extreme lack of judgement by thinking a simple “No you won’t” would stop a 4 year old from doing something they set their mind to. But, that doesn’t mean she should be vilified or charged with anything. However, she also shouldn’t be able to sue the zoo and make a profit off of her poor decision making skills.

    • I agree. This was not a “mistake”. The mother chose to take a picture instead of having a firm hand on her very curious child. When you choose the action, you choose the consequence. Unfortunately, harambe had to pay the price for her negligence, not a mistake.

        • She took a picture at an open enclosure exhibit after her 4 year old told her he was going to swim with the gorilla, not once, but twice. She obviously thought “No you won’t” would stop him and that shows an extreme lack of judgement on her part. Is she a criminal, should she be vilified? No. But should she be absolved of all responsibility? Absolutely not. She needs some parenting classes, that’s for sure and she should not be allowed to sue the zoo and make a profit off her poor decision making skills. Those two things along with the guilt she will carry for the rest of her life is enough.

    • Please 3 year olds are fast on there feet one SECOND they are there and one SECOND they are not. It would’ve been easy to think he hadn’t left her side. And just think about the trauma after he leaves the hospital that this child and mother will have to deal with. I’m sure they will need counselling. There’s enough pain to go around on this situation besides having people being so judgemental about it. That’s the truly sad part of all of this!

    • Wow! I’m sure you are perfect and of course if you do have kids have they ever fallen and scratched their knees? Did they get stung by a bee, need stitches, broken a bone? If so, where were you? They were under your care.

  31. If the zoo hadn’t shot the gorilla, then blacks would be screaming, “Black lives matter!” If the gorilla had killed the child, he would have been shot anyway. If the kid lives to be a teen, he might be shot anyway. The fact that the mother invokes “God” for saving her child is another example her negligence and ignorance. The gorilla seemed to have been protecting the child more than the mother by dragging him away from the commotion. I say, “Gorilla lives matter!”

    • “If the zoo hadn’t shot the gorilla, then blacks would be screaming, “Black lives matter!””
      When there is a similar outpouring of grief and blame from white people posts when a 12 yr old afro-american boy with a toy gun is shot by police, perhaps then your racist comment would be relevant

    • In 1986 a five year old boy fell 12 feet into the Gorilla Enclosure at a British zoo. Zoo keepers and EMTs rescued the boy without harming either the animals or the child. Apparently no one accused the parents of negligence or ignorance and the police did not bring charges. http://lelion.co.uk/index.html But then, the child was white.

      • And perhaps the gorilla was a female and perhaps there were not screams from the crowds to cause the animal to become agitated. The race of this child should never matter. The speed of a child tumbling over a fence, crawling through bushes – bent on a closer view is what matters. Both zoos evaluated different situations and acted appropriately.

      • Well there was a DIFFERENCE..(1) In 1986 the GORILLA there was a FEMALE..(2) The GORILLA today was a MALE…NOW DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE??????

        • In both instances the Gorillas were silverback males. In one case, the parents of the child were black, in the other white. In one case it is all about parental neglect and child abuse, in the other, an unfortunate accident. See the difference?

    • Wow, I’ve never read such blatant ignorance in all of my life. Good thing for you there’s computers, huh? Do you really think this mother or anyone else was focused on race in this situation? Only racist morons would bring it up as an issue. Black child, white child or any other race the gorilla would’ve been shot. Point blank end of story.

  32. Police are now involved, they will determine who is a fault. Doing some research and this is not the first time someone has gotten into a gorilla sanctuary at a zoo. Seems to me that making it IMPOSSIBLE for visitors to enter animal areas that are deemed dangerous should not be that difficult.

  33. The truth of the matter is the mother should have to pay some sort of price for her mistake. The gorilla was pulling the boy around because he realize that whatever all the Ruckus was all the attention going on in his area it was because of the child and he was trying to get rid of what was causing the Ruckus. Not necessarily to hurt the boy just to remove what was sparking all the controversy. And yes when animals are shot with tranquilizers it takes several minutes would it take effect they get pissed off because it hurts and he would have taken out his aggression on the nearest object and that would have been the boy. So perhaps there should be charges against the parents for not supervising your children appropriately but unfortunately I think the right decision was made

    • The mother don’t need too pay for what because she don’t say well I guess I will go too the zoo today in which my son fall in with the gorillas stop it she don’t know that was going too happen people like u need a life if it was your child would u want people too say that about you

      • Please review your use of the word “too”? In every instance, it should be “to”. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine in this English butchering society.

    • With this logic, parents should be held responsible when their children shoot up churches and movie theaters, Or even when cause trains to stop and expensive cleanup after their children commit suicide on the subway tracks..

    • I’m pretty sure watching your son in an enclosure with a 400lb gorilla and then dealing with the injuries he suffered is the price she is paying. guess we’re all without sin here to be casting so many stones.

  34. The kid did warned the mother that he was going into the water. How can the mother just let him place his hands on her back pocket in a crowded area like the zoo and not hang on to his hand especially when the first few witnesses came out and said they had heard the child told his mum he wanted in there. As Jeff Corwin had said ” This incident did not take seconds it took longer than that” The person that noticed he was gone was not even the mom but bystanders. As Jeff Corwin said again ” The species was incredibly endangered. No amount of Science or Biology can reproduce it” A child’s life matter. But common sense prevail. In a crowded zoo, hang onto your kids.

    • Was u there too hear him tell his mother that or is this just something u want the people too hear js if u don’t hear it don’t share it

    • That’s what bothers me. The child apparently said he wanted or was going to go in. Red Flag for any mother. Grab his hand and make certain he doesn’t even try or take him out of the exhibit. Period. This family had better not sue for any medical expenses. This was entirely the responsibility and fault of the parent who brought the child there; and it ended with the death of an endangered animal – endangered by man.

  35. Everyone seems do flabberghasted by the idea that anyone would have chosen anything but shooting the gorilla. I get that we value the life of a 4 year old, and with this mother she was lucky that her mistake didn’t instantly kill her son, like some of the mistakes you mention. There was a choice, take one life for another. It just happened that the life was an animal life, and as a society we have our decided that only human life has true precedent. This view of humans as superior to all other life is much of the cause of endangered animals. Think of this counter example. A car is driving at the legal limit down a residential area, and an unattended child escapes onto the road. There happens to be a sniper (who cares why, this is a thought experiment) set up facing the street. Seeing the child run onto the street the sniper can respond. The options are shoot the driver (save the child); shoot the tire (save the child but possibly kill the driver in a flip); shoot the car radiator (possibly save the child of the car losses momentum fast enough); or do nothing (child dies). What do you decide? The first, third, and final options are the same as were available top the zoo keepers. They chose to kill, no chance if of survival for the gorilla, because we feel human life is superior, valuable above all else. The decision seems harder once you make that death a person as in the example. Don’t be that shocked that some people aren’t so convinced that should be the default case. I of course value my personal connections and would hate for them to die, especially due to my negligence. But does that mean we should default that all but humans should fire to protect our lives, especially when we encroach I those other creatures? When other children and gorillas have survived similar situations without fatality I either side?

    • You were making some sense UNTIL you mentioned Humans encroaching on animals. Thats a fail my friend. There are millions upon millions of acres for animals to roam, please stop with the “encroaching” BS.

      • All you needed to do was google “human encroachment animals” to view the millions upon millions of articles telling you that you are wrong.

  36. Everyone seems do flabberghasted by the idea that anyone would have chosen anything but shooting the gorilla. I get that we value the life of a 4 year old, and with this mother she was lucky that her mistake didn’t instantly kill her son, like some of the mistakes you mention. There was a choice, take one life for another. It just happened that the life was an animal life, and as a society we have our decided that only human life has true precedent. This view of humans as superior to all other life is much of the cause of endangered animals. Think of this counter example. A car is driving at the legal limit down a residential area, and an unattended child escapes onto the road. There happens to be a sniper (who cares why, this is a thought experiment) set up facing the street. Seeing the child run onto the street the sniper can respond. The options are shoot the driver (save the child); shoot the tire (save the child but possibly kill the driver in a flip); shoot the car radiator (possibly save the child of the car losses momentum fast enough); or do nothing (child dies). What do you decide? The first, third, and final options are the same as were available top the zoo keepers. They chose to kill, no chance if of survival for the gorilla, because we feel human life is superior, valuable above all else. The decision seems harder once you make that death a person as in the example. Don’t be that shocked that some people aren’t so convinced that should be the default case. I of course value my personal connections and would hate for them to die, especially due to my negligence. But does that mean we should default that all but humans should fire to protect our lives, especially when we encroach I those other creatures? When other children and gorillas have survived similar situations without fatality I either side

    • Also, several countries have granted, and others are considering granting the legal status of personhood to the great apes. So they are indeed considered a person same as that child.

    • If the zoo hadn’t shot the gorilla, then blacks would be screaming, “Black lives matter!” If the gorilla had killed the child, he would have been shot anyway. If the kid lives to be a teen, he might be shot anyway. The fact that the mother invokes “God” for saving her child is another example her negligence and ignorance. The gorilla seemed to have been protecting the child more than the mother by dragging him away from the commotion. I say, “Gorilla lives matter!”

  37. Thank you for this post! We all make mistakes and I love your key point which is often missing in our society. Empathy. Sometimes I read comments and I wonder if people see themselves as some kind of super humans. That have never felt overwhelmed, have never had a lapse of memory, or never for a moment taken their eyes off of a child. I appreciate your ability to recognize that we have our weaknesses and that we all have feelings. It hurts me to see blaming and finger pointing at the suffering of another human being. Whether an adult or a child, everyone deserves kindness and respect. Thank you for your gentle reminder!

  38. Empathy…, only goes so far. Guaranteed there are legions of Laywers batteling for the attention of this mother to sue the zoo for damages. If she takes them up on their “services” and files, then any empathy for the woman goes out the window!

  39. Courtney, I wanted to try and open up a dialogue because as a non child having adult I am confused about this. I am taking the death of the gorilla out of my opinion when I think about the individuals involved. I understand your point about a mistake but I do not understand your comparison or its relevance. Sure, mistakes happen, but typically when precautions are taken and something is overlooked especially with a child. In your example perhaps the door was unlocked, the screen door as well. This is not a door left open, this is a parent being negligent with a child in a dangerous situation. I also take issue with the post you quoted calling this an “accident.” An accident being an unavoidable circumstance, this is certainly not. While I agree that the zoo should make safety a top priority so should have the mother of this child. I would like to be empathetic, as I am to parents of children who are scalded by burning baths, suffer from accidents poisoning, etc. but being so distracted by your life as to leave a child in a hot car or not watch your child with 100% of your attention in a potentially dangerous and life threatening situation I cannot understand. Maybe when I have a child I will become more selfish with my time, and make questionable decisions about the safety of my child, but I doubt it. I think that not pointing out that this situation could have been avoided by more attentive and better parenting is doing a disservice to all the great parents out there who would never let this happen to their children, I believe that is why there is so much backlash from people who have children of their own. Again, I am open to a completely natural and healthy dialogue. If anyone would like to reply to me directly my Twitter handle is @realabefroeman

    • I think the biggest problem I have, is the expectation, that ALL contingencies can be planned for, and thus associated risk is eliminated. That seems to make no room for the ever present human condition of fallibility. If we plan enough, make contingencies enough, are smart enough, think of everything enough, bad things can be avoided (and it seems to be an attitude of bad things can be totally eliminated). This issue is striking at the heart of the human condition. I am a finite creature. I have limits. Most limits I know of, some I don’t, and some I don’t expect (I can’t even know all of those). We all see ourselves as being able to handle “every situation” when we go about our lives. And there are expectations that others should “know” everything about themselves and plan accordingly. Things in this life can happen in an instant. The consequences can be devastating. But we look for blame, assuming that nothing bad will happen if “everyone” is vigilant. I just don’t believe the world works that way.

    • “An accident being an unavoidable circumstance” I don’t know where you got that definition at as that is most certainly NOT what an accident is. An accident is” an incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally.

      Could it have been completely by more “attentive parenting” avoided? Absolutely, but so could 100% of all kidnappings and anything bad that ever happens to a child. If she had the child on a leash, that wouldn’t have happened, but she would’ve been criticized for treating her child like an animal.

      Unfortunately (no, actually, fortunately), I don’t have a twitter as I find it to be a completely retarded form of social media.

      • Josh, the second definition is what I would like to refer you too “an event that is not planned or intended : an event that occurs by chance,” but this did not occur by chance. It occurred from a lack of attention paid to a child. Again, I don’t have a child. When I do there will be plenty of times that they will not be 100% in my sight, and an accident could occur, but when I put my child in a potentially dangerous circumstance, such as this, no they will not be out my sight. Not until they are old enough and smart enough not to play with large potentially dangerous animals.

    • I raised two children and I agree with you 100%. The excuse “it was just a mistake,” should never be a way around being a neglectful parent. I have zero sympathy for a parent who leaves their child in a hot car because they “forgot” they were there. Your child relies on you to keep them alive…if you can’t focus enough to do that, having children may not be a good choice.

      • I agree.I lived by a road, by a creek, and also a route bears took comming down a right away that passed by our land. Raised 2 kids and a grandson there. they knew to listen to me. By the way, they are all alive and well.

        • I was a wild little monkey child growing up getting into every thing, but I knew how to act in public. Cause there was a belt waiting at home for my butt if I didn’t do so. This family has 4 kids and when I was with my sister or other kids we watched out for each other. So your telling me three kids and two adults wasn’t even watching a kid that say’s he wants to get into the water? Than didn’t even see him climb over a fence….remember this is a little 3-4 year old and not an older kid. That fence is at least waist high for us adults so it wouldn’t be an easy thing to climb over. I get he could prob make it through the bushes pretty fast crawling instead of going through them. That seems like a lot of not noticing your child. Even when others notice them way before you even have a clue they are gone is sad.

  40. Pingback: The Cincinnati Zoo Mother Deserves Empathy, Not Judgment « CauseHub

  41. i understand the child getting away from the mother. happens all the time right? but what people lack besides empathy is knowledge of any other being besides humans. a gorilla is not a predator to a human. wild animals have NO absolute need to kill anything unless they feel threatened, provoked or for food. i highly doubt the gorilla was threatened by the child and obviously will not eat the child. you can take out the option of the gorilla being territorial because thats not his territory. Harambe was from and lived in a zoo in Texas. he would not have protected what is not his. i doubt youve ever been to Africa but when i was there i witnessed one giant water hole. the animals drinking out of it were impala and lions. the impala didnt even worry about their natural predators being 5 yards away from them. and from all of them was our truck about 20 yards away. they could see us and smell us, but they didnt do anything because we didnt do anything to them. the boy was sitting there and the gorilla was curious. soon the gorilla became aggravated from all the yelling of the witnesses and dragged the child to get away from it all (which is also why the gorilla moved to the corner with the child). to humans the dragging was viewed at violent and hurtful, but to a huge gorilla its nothing. ive seen more dog attacks then ive seen gorilla attacks, snake bites, tiger attacks combined. animals will not waste energy and act violently in a way unless you give them a reason too. but a gorilla is a mammal. they have feelings and thoughts. even a shark with no feelings and little to no thoughts will not attack a human unless they are mistaken for food. everyone reacted under pressure and adrenaline which is what ultimately got the gorilla killed. rather than remaining calm and thinking clearly they all yelled and screamed which they thought would help, but scared the gorilla further into dragging the child. people to need to view animals as something more than wild animals, but beings that too have the ability to think, create, fear, feel pain. people only saw the gorilla as a vicious animal when in fact are very shy and reserved towards humans. most animals fear humans and are very skeptical to approach them. SOURCES: I’m going to school for zoology, worked at the Cincinnati zoo as a tour guide sharing facts about large mammals such as gorillas, bears, buffalo etc. by all means am i a professional or a zoologist just yet, but i am qualified to work at a zoo and share facts to the tours and help with research. no one should be blamed because it was a mistake that we will all hopefully learn from. fear got the best of both the gorilla and the people involved.

    • I understand what you are saying, Joshua, but a human child’s life is more valuable than an animal’s life. All the zoo professionals, including Jack Hanna believed that it was the right decision. Yes, it is sad that a beautiful animal is dead, but would we rather see a human child getting slammed on the wall or jumped on if they would have shot a tranquilizer at the gorilla and agitated him, or caused him fear.

      • You are correct in that a child’s life is valuable, but it seems that the parents didn’t see that very point about their own child. Call me a tough parent if you will but for the amount of time it took for this parent to realize their very child was even gone….. the value was not on the child. These days seems most people don’t know how to parent, thus less value on their children.

  42. Adding to my previous comment…. the examples you cite (about “accidents happen”) are actually examples of bad parenting.

    A parent that forgets their children in a HOT CAR/CARSEAT? Is this normal? I know of no parent that has ever forgotten their child anywhere. Good parents always know where their child is, and if out of their sight they leave them only with another trusted responsible adult, e.g. at a friend’s house or at school). Before I send my child to a friends’ house, I even ask the friend’s parent if they have any weapons/firearms in their house (even if it’s “locked” or “safe”). If they don’t answer, I won’t send my child. You need to take your child’s safety in your own hands.

    Leaving your child unattended in the bathtub for 3 minutes? Do you know children can slip in a wet bathtub (even if there’s an anti-slip mat). And if they slip and hit their head, they can die or become unconscious. A good parent NEVER leaves their child unattended in a potentially dangerous situation. Believe it or not, a tub full of water is dangerous to a child.

    Accidentally giving your child a food that they’re highly allergic to? I think not. I know of 4 parents who have children with severe food allergies. And EVERY ONE OF THEM religiously reads every food package label, or asks BEFORE giving anything to their child. The ones with severe allergies actually don’t take chances and bring their own foods (even their own home-made birthday cake when their child goes to a friend’s birthday party).

    And your example of going into the shower is not the same. An example more like the zoo incident would be if you went to the shower leaving your young child near a running food processor or a hot stove. Leaving them alone in a potentially dangerous situation IS bad parenting. The problem is, this mother doesn’t understand that zoos are dangerous places (as are any public place).

    Your examples are actually silly. Either you’re not a parent, or you don’t know good parents (maybe your examples came from friends/people you know who actually did these?).

    As far as the zoo incident and what this mother (Michelle Gregg) did, you have exaggerated or misrepresented what happened. You said the child “fell” into the pit. The child actually crawled (circumvented the two fences and bushes) and then fell. The child intentionally did this because he had earlier told his mother TWICE that he wanted to “go down there”. The mother ignored him and continued looking after the many other children with her. She had too many children with her to properly monitor all of them.

    Imagine if instead of this tragedy, the boy had gotten lost and gotten hurt another way — or gotten abducted.

    The mother wouldn’t even have known until minutes later. She clearly is IRRESPONSIBLE. Please don’t defend such parental behaviors. If the mother truly feels grateful, she should acknowledge that she made a mistake, had a “lapse in judgement” as you said in your blog. If the mother apologizes for causing this due to her lapse/oversight, I think people would be sympathetic (not empathetic). You can/should only be empathetic with people who have your pathos. The majority of people decry this woman’s behavior, and lack of remorse/admission of making a mistake. They are right.

    If you stand by your belief that it’s simply a “mistake”, ask the mother (Michelle Gregg) to apologize publicly to the zoo and the gorilla’s “family” (caretakers).

    • I suggest you read the article ‘Fatal Distraction’ with regard to children left in cars. It can happen to ANYONE. Scientific studies have proven how easily it occurs to perfectly observant parents, particularly since the use of rear facing seats.

      Did you even read the included eyewitness account? It clearly states that the mother was looking for the child within seconds of him ‘flopping’ over the fence then crawled into the bushes. She was scanning the crowd because she couldn’t see him in the bushes. If you look at photos of the enclosure the bushes are right next to the fence and it would have taken seconds for him to be in the thick of them.

      If you think a single minute of fallibility can never happen to you, you are either exceptionally arrogant or exceptionally naive. Nobody is a perfect parent. Not even you.

      As for apologies, maybe the zoo should consider that it is lucky that they’d never had this happen before. The mother (and the father, who people appear to have few opinions about) should not be the only party vilified here.

    • She will never apologize as they would accept responsibility which will impact her lawsuit that you know is coming. Also, it might void the zoo paying for all medical expenses.

  43. Hi Courtney, You make a compassionate argument about a common situation: This child didn’t listen to his mother, “got away” from his parents, and “accidents happen.” And this time there was someone with a high powered rifle there to put a bullet into the heart of a rare, beautiful, captive gorilla to rescue this child.

    But I think the essential question to ponder is: What is going to happen the inevitable next time… When this boy sees something he wants at the beach or pool, and is then found face down in the water? What is going to happen when this boy wanders away in the mall, and a pedophile predator walks him past unknowing security guards? What is going to happen when this boy just darts off the grass into a street and oncoming traffic? What about the horrified lifeguards & guilty security people; the shocked homeowner or devastated driver who will feel life-altering grief because they feel they somehow caused this child to come to harm, and couldn’t “save” him?

    My sister’s nephew *drowned* at a pool party because his father left the pool with him, and didn’t realize his son had gone back into the water. By the grace of God, another guest- a firefighter- was there to perform CPR and resuscitate the child.

    Years ago, my mother’s cousin was driving and accidentally hit a unsupervised child on a bike that came out of no where. The child ultimately survived, but her cousin subsequently had a nervous breakdown, gave up driving entirely, and “never was the same.” This incident literally ruined this man’s life.

    So, in this case, this child’s irresponsible parents have just cost society an endangered animal. But God only knows what horrible tragedy their negligent actions will cause their own children and other innocent people in the future…

    • Irresponsible parents….. nice turn of a phrase. Yet you have no idea what the “family situation” is. You have no idea if this is a reoccurring theme. We can’t know. Negligence is a horrible thing. But to assume one is purposely negligent is even harder to discern. And you are so compassionate, expressing the strong possibility, that future events are probably bound to happen. Of course, no one learns from their mistakes. Do they.

      • I have about a dozen police officers in my family; I’ve heard quite a lot about “irresponsible” parents. As for this family’s situation, this is for Child Protective Services (maybe) to determine. “Purposely negligent” is a legal concept that we see in the news every single day regarding hurt and dead children- kids left in hot cats, shot with unsecured handguns in the home, drowned in backyard pools- this is for the local D.A. and courts to decide. As for my personal compassion, well, I fear for this child. If you know any cops, ask them about the tragic “mistakes” they have to deal with on a daily basis.

        • I’m sure you have. I have never discounted that there are those out there. I personally know some of the instances of which you speak. I’ve seen the heartbreak. I’ve seen the loss. I’ve also seen GOOD families have things like this happen. Not “irresponsible” parents. But a momentary lapse (they are human), and it costs dearly.

          And yes, police see a LOT, (my family has EMS experiences I get to hear about) but I wonder how many have seen so much with some families that the assumption, that ALL families that “make mistakes” must be automatically like those situations the police run into in their daily lives.

          I’m not here to fight. I just feel that understanding is more important than assuming. And to make declarations with those assumption without all the facts, makes all of us fools because it feeds a frenzy.

          Now you may not want to hear this but here it is……..

          Thank your family for me if you would. I more than appreciate anyone willing to put on a uniform to serve this devolving society we live in today. Thank you……

          • Surely I will pass on your thanks. I guess the issue here is whether this “mistake” is part of a larger pattern. There was a public, extremely negative consequence to this incident. Do the police tend to assume the worst? I’m not sure that they do. But where there’s smoke, sometimes there’s fire. The authorities’ job is to find out the facts, so it is not surprising that CNN is now reporting that the Cincinnati Police are indeed investigating this case.

  44. Courtney, I fully disagree with your entire premise.

    The issue is neither about superiority nor empathy. It’s about being responsible for your actions (or inactions), and paying the price if you make a mistake (have an accident).

    It’s easy to have empathy for anyone who does wrong things. But that doesn’t change the fact that the mother in this case was irresponsible.

    Responsibility for your children is the paramount role of every parent. There’s nothing greater that you the parent must do, for your child(ren). They are yours — your flesh and blood — your responsibility to care for, encourage, raise, educate, and build into strong adults. NOTHING ELSE.

    So in every moment of your life while you are their parent (after your child is born, and until they leave your house permanently)…. you need to be thinking of your decisions and actions and lack of actions and how you affect them. If anything you do/don’t do will harm your child, then you change your tactic. Yes, we all make mistakes, but if we make a mistake that harms our child (or anyone else for that matter), you are still responsible for someone being hurt.

    So this mother WAS RESPONSIBLE for what her young child did. She was ultimately responsible for the gorilla having to be killed (to save her son). She was responsible for ignoring her child’s repeated wishes to “go down there” where the gorilla was.

    First, this mother is at fault for the multiple tragedies that occurred on Saturday — her innocent child being hurt and traumatized, an innocent gorilla losing its life, and an innocent organization (the zoo) being challenged and having to explain themselves through the media (and probable future legal consequences). More than likely, the mother/family will justify their own actions by fully blaming the zoo for what happened — and then they will sue the zoo. Sadly, the zoo did nothing wrong. The gorilla did nothing wrong. The child did nothing wrong (since it told its mother twice he wanted to go down there and the mother didn’t meet his needs (the safest way would have been by restraining him or convincing him that it’s a bad idea do go down there)).

    It’s easy to say “it was an accident”. When a distracted driver unwittingly kills innocent people, it’s an accident. And they’re punished for it. The same way, when a distracted mother unwittingly kills another (whether a person or a gorilla), she must be punished. In this case, the punishment should be financial since she can’t replace the gorilla’s life (and the law recognizes animals only as property, who only have monetary value).

    Bottom line, the mother should be punished for being an irresponsible parent. Does not matter that it was an accident or that she’s sorry. A distracted driver is always sorry after killing someone, but that doesn’t change the fact that they made bad decisions. Same here.

    As to your portrayal of gorillas as predators and violent animals, that is totally uninformed. Gorillas are more like people than you might realize. In this case, this gorilla’s actions were always to protect the child — and only after it was disoriented and frightened (by the crowds shouting at it) did it get scared and confused. Any animal when scared will protect itself over a stranger. The gorilla recognized the boy was not a treat to it, recognized the boy was hurt, and tried to get the boy out of the water.

    However, gorillas do not have contact with human children — never. So they do not know their strength is so much greater than ours, and they don’t know that their “gentle” is still “rough” for us. So he treated the child as he would have treated a child gorilla — dragging or pushing it along. He also didn’t know what concrete is, and that concrete can scrape our skin. So we can’t expect a gorilla to know the best way to help the child out of the water — it did what its instincts told it — to help the child by dragging it out.

    And after the gorilla was agitated/scared (due to the humans about shouting), it’s behavior became unpredictable. While it would not have attacked the boy (since it’s too small), it probably became confused about what was happening (this strange creature shows up and is crying, I (gorilla) try to help it up, other creatures up above start shouting and yelling and crying…..).

    Gorillas are mostly peaceful herbivores that want to live without conflict. They are territorial (as most animals including humans are). But when faced with conflict vs. no conflict, they also choose the safer path. In this case, with the boy not being a threat to it in any way (size, teeth, smell, etc.), it would not have intentionally harmed the boy.

    • Responsibility – yes. Being responsible. Guess what, how many times have your actions caused something bad? You actually do not know do you. We can’t know, we are not omniscient. The problem isn’t that she is “responsible”. The question is how do we as human beings respond to that “responsibility”. And in many cases, do we have much higher standards for others until we are the ones guilty. I have no problem with looking at things to find responsibility. I do have a problem with assumptions of, “this is what happened”, “we know ALL the facts”, and can make a automatic judgement (and as you so demonstrated – a harsh one) on the what should be done. I agree that responsibility/accountability is becoming an unknown quantity in our society – however, to judge harshly, and of course, all offenders must be PUNISHED, seems to have lost some sense of humanity. I hope you are able to live up to the standards you so seeming desire to heap on others.

      • Thanks Louis for your civil comments.

        I actually take this matter (child-rearing) very very seriously. And I can honestly say I go out of my way (maybe to extremes) to keep my children safe. I practice safe ways of doing everything — and fortunately I have not had any serious problem occur in my life or with my children, due to my actions/inactions.

        As far as knowing what consequences occur from our actions/inactions…. this does not require omniscience. Most people can understand the consequences or follow-on events that happen. And if they don’t know, society or others tell them. Bottom line, I agree that people can make mistakes, and if they do they must be held accountable for serious transgressions.

        As to this mother, she needs to publicly apologize for her “lapse in judgement” when she left her child unattended (and when she ignored the twice demands by her child that he wanted to “go down there”). She had too many children with her at the zoo that day, and was unable to keep a vigilant eye on all of them.

        God forbid if one of the kids under her responsibility that day would have gotten lost, hurt in another way, or been abducted at the zoo. Would we still blame the zoo? Or their practices or safety measures? This is the exact same situation — a mothers inattentiveness caused one to get seriously hurt. It doesn’t matter how her son got hurt.

        This happened because:
        (1) she had too many kids to watch over that day,
        (2) she ignored her son (who said repeatedly he wanted to “go down there”)
        (3) she hasn’t apologized (for being inattentive to her children’s safety)

        Louis, if you truly believe in what you said, you should also stand up and ask this mother to apologize for being inattentive to her son’s safety — and in the process cause harm to an innocent peaceful gorilla, the zoo’s staff, the zoo (since they likely will face legal challenges now).

        If the woman apologizes and admits she made a mistake, I believe everyone will stop blaming her. People are blaming her because she’s unable to see she made a major mistake that hurt many lives. It’s obvious to most people.

        • I do agree that there are many, that cannot admit to a mistake. This is one where the collateral damage to that action/inaction, was great! Unfortunately, I do not know if that responsibility will be taken, it is a parents responsibility to cover all they can with their children. It is impossible for a parent to even cover one child completely, let alone if there are multiple children. We’re human. In my opinion, there is no suit here for her to file. Don’t know if she’ll sue or not (I hope not). It may take time, to come to grips with the realization, that she may be directly responsible for her child’s actions (not sure of ALL the history).

          There will be times when we as humans, just “can’t do it all”, we can’t “see it all” and we can’t “control it all”. I am a finite being with limitations. Assuming that someone in an instant will or should meet my expectations, are bound to meet with failure. We all can do the woulda, shoulda, coulda. But this situation is so new, and raw, emotions are flowing everywhere. And it is the snap judgements that I find most disconcerting.

          • “Collateral damage” is a very important point you raised. The mother’s actions hurt many, and she hasn’t (yet) apologized or taken responsibility. I think if she does this (soon), people will start to calm down.

            I don’t believe it’s about “doing it all” or woulda shoulda coulda… as long as we do the basics, that will make a lot in the world better. If you can’t watch over five kids, don’t take five kids to the zoo (or any public place that can be dangerous)… not even to the mall (where they can get abducted, lost, lose their balance on the escalator and get a tiny finger cut off, etc). The world for little kids isn’t so safe, if you think about it.

            It’s about knowing your limits & always being careful (as in: stop taking pictures when your son’s said twice he wants to “go down there by the monkeys” and you know he’s the kind who gets into “trouble”).

            • She wasn’t there alone with 5 kids. Her husband was with her. What was he doing? He clearly wasn’t watching the kids either. It wasn’t just one inattentive parent, it was two. That makes me think A Devoted Aunt of Three may be correct in her predictions of future trouble for this family.

  45. The fact of the matter is that regardless of how inattentive the mother was or wasn’t a gorilla’s life isn’t more important than a human child’s and the zoo built an enclosure that didn’t do a very good job at mitigating risk.

    This moral, holier than thou parenting witch hunt on this mother needs to end. If you have never had your child escape from you and get into potential danger in an instant you are lucky, not superior.

    • The zoo had never had an issue with that enclosure in 38 years. Just saying… I have 2 kids (4 and 9) and I know they can get away from me for an instance on occasion…however they are seriously punished afterwards. Also, when I go into public places (especially on a Saturday) my guard is up and my kids no darn good and well to respect boundaries, people, places and things! It is a very sad subject all around

    • I think most people don’t realize that zoos across the country are not responsible for keeping people away from the animals. Zoo’s create barriers based on the temperament, dangers posed by, predictability, etc. of the animals — and also for natural “accidents” that people can get into (slipping, being pushed, etc). Barriers are actually to keep the animals away from the people, not the other way around.

      A zoo cannot create a barrier that will keep DETERMINED people away from the animals. If someone truly wants to, they can ALWAYS find a way to get into an animal area. Even cages and bullet-proof glass enclosures can be circumvented. Not to mention, why should we go back to zoos from 100-years ago, full of cages? Why punish 99% of people for the 1% ultra-foolish ones. Modern zoos are educational and conservational areas, where people and animals come together in psuedo-natural (simulated) settings. It’s a place where people (mostly children) are supposed to be taught to identify, respect (rather than fear), and learn to let these animals live in peace. THIS the mother didn’t do to her son, when he said he wanted to go down there.

      In this case, the child was determined to get in, and his parent did not supervise him. The child was determined — told his mom twice he wanted to “go down there” — she ignored him, was watching her other kids, and taking pictures.

      Please don’t blame the zoo. The barriers in place at this (and most zoos) are sufficient for keeping people safe from the animals, and to prevent people from accidentally falling/getting in.

      On the gorilla’s life vs. child’s life, I don’t remember anyone comparing this. Of course the child’s life is more valuable (to us humans). However the mother’s irresponsibility put the zoo into a bad situation, where they had to kill the innocent gorilla to save the child from being hurt by a confused/fearful/enraged gorilla.

      Your demand, that zoos should mitigate risk more than this, isn’t realistic. As I said, zoos do mitigate the risk of animals hurting people. They don’t mitigate the risk of people hurting animals (or each other). If they were in that business, we’d see metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs etc. all over. If a crazed person blew up a rock-wall separating people from elephants, what do you think would happen? Should zoos now be in the business of mitigating that risk too? People (especially the crazy and foolish ones) will do things that put others at risk. When they do, they must apologize and take responsibility.

      If this mother (Michelle Gregg) publicly apologizes for putting her son (and the zoo) at risk — because she had too many children with her and she did not monitor all of them — then the uproar over her will quiet down. When I make a mistake, I apologize (and pay the consequences, if any). She has done neither. Actually, the zoo will likely pay the consequences (since I predict she/her family will later sue the zoo or settle out-of-court — we many never know the truth but she’ll benefit and the zoo will again be harmed later, financially). All due to her irresponsibility.

      Parenting is serious business — not up to a “leave it to chance” mentality.

      • From a CNN article: “”We continue to praise God for His grace and mercy, and to be thankful to the Cincinnati Zoo for their actions taken to protect our child,” the boy’s family said Wednesday.
        “We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us. Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.””

        Yep, that definitely sounds like someone who wants to sue the zoo for money.

        Why are you continually posting her name in your posts? It has not been publicized in the media for good reason–it would put her in danger. Your irresponsible actions could cause great harm to that mother or her family. I suggest you take responsibility for your actions, which are putting her in danger, and apologize.

    • Exactly. Nobody is infallible. Nobody is perfect. Not even those who insist they never take their eyes of their children for one second, ever.

  46. I have plenty of empathy for the kid. Curiosity and adventure led to a scary situation. But I have zero empathy for the mother… and why would I? This is a nightmare to be sure, but one of her own making. Am I to believe that this was the first instance of her child wondering off or exploring or climbing? Probably not. A child that has the ability to wonder and roam without know-how to determine if something is a good idea or not, is a child that should not be allowed to wonder. No arguments about “fairness” or “the burden for the mother” or attempts at rationalizing the behavior can be accepted. These arguments serve as nothing more than excuses. Be where you shouldnt be at a Zoo… bad things can happen. Loose track of your kid at an exhibit…. Gorilla, Elephant, Rhino, Tiger, Lion, Wolves… what can anyone do BUT kill the animal to save you from your own stupidity. This was not a “predator” invading “human territory”. It was a prison cell with minimal presentation to be something other than that. You voluntarily approach and circumvent the protections placed there at your own risk.

    If you respect the awe of animals enough to visit them at a zoo… then respect them further by not going if you cannot control yourself or you family. Respect their nature. Respect their power. Respect the danger. If you cannot learn that, then you deserve the pain that is sure to come.

    • Most people do have empathy but those with extreme views are getting the most attention. The problem here is that many, many, people at the Zoo heard the boy quite clearly state that he was getting in that pen. Bad parenting and saying that does not make one lack empathy.

      • Actually – it can mean one lacks empathy. I’ve seen children may times, get to the temper-tantrum phase in public, because they didn’t get what they wanted. And how many parents, continue to walk on, because they have heard it soooooo many times before. All parents, come to a point of numbness. You and I don’t know the family situation. So…. maybe just maybe, there is some room for genuine empathy, without automatically judging the parent.

        • More than likely this boy has done this before. The mother’s behavior (ignoring his needs) shows she was very used to him “misbehaving”. I don’t blame the child — he was curious and doing what I would want him to do (explore, learn). But it’s the parent’s/mother’s role to supervise that exploration/learning. If you can’t supervise them, either don’t take them or ask someone else to help you. So if the mother knew her son was like this, she should have taken greater care in watching him.

          Clearly in this case, the mother had many children with her that day (people at the scene reported she had “too many”). AND she was busy taking pictures (as this blog cites, through a bystander’s report).

          Lastly, if you did make a mistake (of not supervising your child who got into trouble), apologize to those who were hurt, admit you made a mistake, and no one will say anything. This mother (Michelle Gregg) has not done any of this. She’s acting as if she did nothing wrong. Me thinks she’s aiming for a lawsuit in the future? Sadly the zoo, their staff, the innocent gorilla, and the boy were the victims of this careless “mother”. For most of them it’s mostly over. For the zoo, I think it’s just beginning (the lawsuit). If the mother truly is sorry (and thankful for what the zoo did by killing that gorilla, to save her son), she should publicly admit it was her doing alone that caused this, and accept the blame for consequences.

          And if she promises not to sue the zoo, I’m sure the zoo will promise not to charge her for the “cost” of the gorilla’s life (there isn’t one, no life has a measurable cost).

  47. Nicely written, but I disagree on some things. As parents, we “know” when something isn’t right with our child, as they are growing. I knew something wasn’t right with mine, before the age of 2. I spent over a year trying to find someone who would listen to me, about him. Discovered, that he’s autistic and severe ADHD. Now that we “‘know”‘ how he is and what he can do and the fact that he’s a danger to his own self (lacks the common sense to think things through), we keep our eyes on him at all times when we are in the public. He’s 9 now. But it’s been a rough 7 yrs… and we finally had to teach him a lesson at the tender age of 3. He “loses” us. LOL WE disappeared and kept him in our eye sight the whole time. When he looked like he was going to meltdown from fear, we popped out. The relief on his face was immediate. My husband quickly knelt down and asked him, how did he feel when he “lost” us. With tears in his eyes, said scared and thought he had lost us for good. My husband let him know that’s how we feel, when he gets too far ahead and out of our eye sight. We then showed him the child leashes and told him what they were and what for and asked him, if we needed to buy one. Because he hates being restrained, his response was quick, NO. What I’m trying to say, it’s not about the gorilla. Unfortunately, the gorilla paid the price for another’s mistake. We as parents are supposed to work together as a team. Eyewitnesses (several) stated the child had said several times, he was going to swim with the gorilla. The parents, should have picked up on that and dealt with it and secured that child right then and there. If one parent gets busy with another child or taking pictures, then the other parent or adult with them, should pick up the slack. It’s about being responsible. I’m not going to say she’s a bad parent, but this shouldn’t have happened, I’m sure this isn’t the first escapade that, that little boy did. Knowing that? She should have had a child tether or put both of them in the strollers they have at the zoos.

    • Unfortunately – in our society today – there are oh so many that think they know better how to raise another person’s child. Put a leash on them, and people will criticize for restraining the child, hurting their independence, or self esteem. Do something else, another group will criticize that. There is no pleasing the population. And with the easy instant access to media, and declaring one’s “outrage” – there will be no compassion, understanding or forethought because there is no accountability for what is singed across the ether. Someone, will disagree, and be ugly about it. That is the state of our society. In other words, everyone else knows better than the proverbial “you”. And they judge instantly, and they sentence immediately, and it is merciless, without all the facts. Assumption, (an arrogant attitude of they know better without really knowing) is commonplace. That is where our society has devolved.

      • More than 30 years ago my older sister was coming home from work at night, and was struck and killed by a young kid driving drunk in another car. My sister didn’t have a chance. The paramedics said she died at the scene.

        It’s easy to say “accidents” happen, and that no one means to do things. Yes that’s true but it’s also true that if everyone went through life thinking “stuff happens, no big deal”… we all would be hurting each other (as we often do). Only when we take extra extra, (did I say EXTRA) care not to hurt others, does the world become a better place. Yes I agree judging someone else without all of the facts can be wrong. But in this case, I believe the judgement is fair because the boy’s mother didn’t watch him, we know she was careless. People said she had too many kids to watch, and the boy said many times he wanted to go down to swim with the monkeys. The mother couldnt care for her kids. Imagine if instead of this, her son was taken away by a stranger while she’s taking pictures. She wouldn’t have known until it was too late. Bad things can happen to young children when their parents are careless.

        In this case, the world (the ether) sees this mother was careless, and caused her son to get hurt and the gorilla got killed. Both really sad. I think she’s responsible for what happened, and she should admit to the media it was her fault and she’s sorry.

        • Unfortunately, what is seen as carelessness, can happen in an instant. Was the child’s pleadings, normal? Was there an expectation of him, to go off on his own? Don’t know. But from the discussion of at least one bystander, there was a moment she was looking for him and he did an excellent job of evading discovery by staying within the bushes. Not sure. I just have a hard time expecting perfection from an imperfect being. Just my opine.

  48. To put the higher importance on the gorilla’s life over the 4 year old boys in INSANE!!! And to attack the mother of the child in such a cruel way is just wrong. “She needs shot”…… “She needs prosecuted”……. are you kidding me???
    Yes, she made a mistake… I pretty big one, but we should not be so quick to harshly judge.
    What if that had been our kid and the world was placing the gorilla’s life above our child’s??? That is just sick.
    As a country, we need to learn to stop being filled with such hate, judgement, and cruelty. We need to learn to love our neighbors and lend a helping hand when needed. We need to learn when to put our opinion out there and when to shut up, because our words could deeply hurt another human being.
    I am so disgusted over this whole ordeal, but I am so happy that child is going to live.

    Pray instead of criticize, it will have way more of an impact then your evil, harsh opinions posted all over the Internet.

  49. Thank you for your post, Courtney.

    This incident was caused by a child’s curiosity, and could have easily been prevented if the mother had not been distracted in that moment, or if the zoo had created a more secure barrier. This type of barrier, curious children, and distracted parents have all happened thousands and thousands of times in zoos across the world. In this case, the stars aligned.

    Our public preference for drama and outrage over human empathy and compassion is worthy of note and examination.

    The gorilla was only acting upon his nature. Of course he is not at fault. But the animal’s good intentions can not negate the fact that he could have killed the child with extreme ease and without meaning to. (Please note that the full video shows the child being dragged around with great force, while most of the videos have edited that portion out.)

  50. Let the kid die is obviously an inappropriate response. I’ve read a lot of posts on this and have not seen one calling for shooting the mother/father/kid – not one. But, yes, there is a lot regarding the negligence of the mother – and it’s all accurate. She didn’t make a “mistake” – she was grossly irresponsible and her actions and poor judgment resulted in a horrific set of circumstances that were completely avoidable. Did you listen to the videos? Can you hear her? “Mommy’s here” – seriously – she sounds as stupid as she obviously is. You don’t count on your kid to keep his hand in your pocket as a means of keeping him safe – you keep your hand and eyes on him – especially at a Zoo, in front of a wild animal pen that the kid has expressed a desire to be in. Total idiot.

  51. I feel it’s imperative they share the footage of the gorilla harming the boy. Until the public sees that, they are empathetic of a dead animal, not a mistaken mother, who is being convicted without trial for manslaughter. The truth is she was negligent and it was a mistake and yes, I’m a parent of two and have taken showers with my daughter in front of the TV. However, parents who have forgotten about a child in a carseat on a hot summer day? Walking away from a child in a bathtub should NEVER be done. If you are doing it, you are taking the risk of your child falling in with a gorilla. Really, if your child has a deadly food allergy, you forget to read a label? Your points on empathy are spot on but your examples of mistakes are grossly overstated. Also, the family should take accountability rather than immediately shift blame on the zoo.

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  53. Nicely done. I disagree only with the statement of leaving a child in the bathtub for three minutes…everything else is spot-on. Leaving a child in the bathtub for three minutes is a deliberate act that requires forethought. You think, “Oh…I probably shouldn’t leave, but she’ll be okay for just a minute.” It’s a deliberate act of carelessness. The rest, however, are truly accidents. Nobody means to forget a child in a hot car, and a dad would certainly not intend to cause an allergic reaction. 🙂

    I’ve reblogged because I think you’re onto something. Nice job!

  54. Reblogged this on C.H. Armstrong Books & Blog and commented:
    The tragedy that occurred with Harambe in Ohio was a terrible accident. I repeat, an ACCIDENT. I can’t count how many times I’ve looked back on what could’ve been a serious incident and thanked my lucky stars that my children were safe…and I’m hyper vigilant about my children and their safety! I’m the mom that might be caught wrapping them in bubblewrap! (Only kidding a little bit).

    For all those people posting hateful comments and casting criticism, you might consider taking a moment to breathe and think through this eloquent post from this talented blogger. I only wish I’d written it, as her words echo exactly what I would’ve said. Just give it some thought…

  55. Regardless of the mother’s so called neglect, her child was in danger. No matter how anyone spins it, no matter what these people( who are sitting in front of their computers pretending to be gorilla whisperers- knowing what he would have done had he not been shot) say. The boy fell in. That is the only fact! Yes the mom should have been more attentive but she turned away. That does not mean that her child deserved to die. The gorilla is in a zoo being gawked at by visitors instead of living in the wild like he should be. Be mad at the zoo for holding this endangered animal in the first place. The world that we live in is a very sad place. When people start believing that an animals life outweighs that of a human child’s.

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  58. You list the following parenting examples as mistakes:

    Think about the parents who have forgotten about a child in a carseat on a hot summer day. A mom who walked away from the bathtub for 3 minutes, and came back to a lifeless child. A dad who forgot to read an ingredient label and gave his child a food containing his severe allergy.

    These are not mistakes, they are examples of gross negligence. Mistakes happen all the time. Death by negligence does not happen all the time and is punishable by law.

    • And of course – the law is perfect. No loopholes, correct for all circumstances, no mistakes in the writing. Remember, sometimes, the intent of the law is more important than the letter of the law. And yes, though these examples may have been poor ones, there are times, when mistakes, happen, and even death is the result with no negligence (gross or otherwise). Because humans, are imperfect. The world is imperfect.

      • And what if this gorilla did kill the child? Lets just chalk it up to a ‘giant oops’ as these examples tried to demonstrate. People need to be held responsible (legally or in the court of public opinion) for their actions or lack thereof in this instance.

        • Good point Hans B. The gorilla could have killed the boy instantly. The gorilla would still be shot but the outcome would be much different for the parent and the zoo.

        • Yep – especially the court of public opinion. Public Opinion is extremely well qualified to pass judgement on the actions of many……. Just like the Duke Lacrosse team, and others throughout the history of social media. Public Opinion, is a great judge, especially on accountability……. not.

    • Rubbish!People make mistakes.The child got away in a few seconds.Simple.We don’t want it to happen but it does.Happens all the time.This is not in the same category as a person leaving a child in a hot car,which is just plain stupid.Gorilla or child.Easy decision.Human life is much more important than any other life form.This should not even be up for discussion.I am happy that the child is safe and as far as I am concerned that is all that matters.I am also glad that the Cincinnati Police department is not bowing to mob(300,000 of them,I am told) suggestions of charging her with anything.All of you,including Hans B,get a life and f..k off!

      • I am not commenting on the issue of the gorilla. My issue is with defending someone for being a complete putz and labeling it as a simple mistake. Also no need for the nasty language.

  59. If you set expectations for children this young each and every time before you step out the door AND you teach your children the meaning of “no” tragedies like this are easily avoidable.

    • And children are never disobedient. While it may lessen the possibility, it will never make it totally avoidable.

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  61. Mostly reasonable, but the implication (in the fourth paragraph) that gorillas are predators feels like fearmongering to play up the danger.

    Gorillas are mostly herbivores; other than insects, they really only eat plants.

    • Great observation. Blew right past that. In this case, the gorilla, though (maybe) trying to act protectively, due to the situation (the strength et.al) was just a danger. Unintentional, but a danger. It could have been said a different way. Agreed.

    • For sure Xeophonics – they are not predators! There was no need to Hype it up. They needed to merely focus on the fact that the Gorilla was confused, excited and likely agitated with all the spectators yelling and the child himself screaming. Zoo Officials have a protocol for stuff like this. They have an electronic signal that ,when activated, the gorilla’s are trained to return to their inner holding areas (likely a food reward of some kind). All the Gorilla’s immediately responded to their training and went inside except the Male Razorback with the child. Given this (and the few times he showed some aggression), the Zoo Security, in my mind, did the only thing they could have done to erase any doubt that things might and very likely would have gotten worse.

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  64. I do feel the mother should have had a better grip on the child especially at the zoo!!..This beautiful animal who was where he was suppose to be, not bothering anyone was shot dead as somehow this curious child got into his habitat. It looks like the gorilla was trying to protect the child because if he wanted to to harm he could have.

    • The animal was not where it was supposed to be. A zoo masks the fact that the animal was in captivity. THE END!

      • Very true. It is a species in threat of extinction because not all people have the same values as you. So do you leave them in the wild to become extinct, or do you bring them in, present them to the public, and see if enough awareness can be raised, to stop the extinction trend? Not sure, but people don’t seem to be able to have empathy for that which they cannot see (to make a connection). Just a human failing. So that is the choice. Leave them all in the wild and hope they survive (because you or I cannot control all humanity), or try and leverage as much as you can to help save them.

      • Touché!!!!! I worked at a zoo and it was a pretty sad experience. The animals are not happy, are not in their environment, and their captive behaviors cannot be predicted! The zoo responded the correct way. If anything, the enclosure should have been more secure so that this could not have happened.

  65. “I was taking a pic and he was gone”…

    She was pre-occupied…
    She was negligent…
    She’s at fault for this…

    38 years, no incidents… Then Michelle Gregg decided to go to the zoo.

    Your single account is met with several others saying Michelle Gregg’s son actually told her he was going to “swim with the gorillas” and she brushed him off to continue taking photos.

    She’s negligent
    She’s liable
    She should be sued for restitution and banned from the zoo & all other zoos in the future.

    Oh and now Michelle Gregg is suing the zoo by the way… She’s whats wrong, She’s the monster in this situation no matter how you try to say “mistakes happen”.

    • Interesting. You have never told somebody, wait a minute, while I finish this. You have never been in a situation where you were busy, and bristled, and ignored those interrupting you. You have never had children who by habit, demand continual attention. Or even better yet, have you ever had children. Yet, you are perfect. You will respond without angst, and kindness no matter what you are doing. Sorry, your lack of empathy, only shows that you are perfect, but no near a superior being.

      • Speaking as a parent I can guarantee you that if my 4 year old told me (not once, but twice) that he/she was going to go swim with the gorilla I’d have grabbed his or her hand until we left that exhibit. I’m not saying this woman did something criminal, but she definitely dropped the ball by thinking a simple, “No you’re not.” would magically get that 4 year old to not do what he had (obviously) set his mind to. She does bear some culpability in what played out because of her inaction, but should she go to jail? No. But she should also not be allowed to sue the zoo and make a profit off of her poor decision making skills.

    • You have no universal health care the hostpital bills are likely crippling so even if she feels at fault she is forced to make the decision to sue the zoo.

      Sue the zoo or lose everything to pay inflated healthcare. I know what I would choose.

      • Typical response these days – Sue Sue Sue – Even (and sometimes) when you are the one at fault!! And mark my words, she will sue for A LOT more than just the hospital bills! She is lucky she hasn’t been charged with Criminal Negligence (kid said he wanted to swim with the gorilla! Hello – “RED F@*king FLAG!!!! )

      • An ER visit is not going to break your bank even if your poor and you don’t have to pay it on the spot. Hell when I was broke I had a visit I paid off over a year as I just sent them 5 dollars a month until it was paid off. Hell I’m currently unemployed and it’s cheaper for me to pay out of pocket than to pay for insurance right now.

  66. Great post, Courtney. I don’t have a comment except to share the worss of rhe communications director of Zoo Miami Ron Magill who echoes much of what you said.

    “Doing one of several interviews today with CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America, and most of the local stations regarding the terrible tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo where a 17 year old silverback gorilla had to be shot to save a 4 year old boy who managed to fall into the enclosure. As I said during all of these interviews, the professional staff at the zoo made the correct decision to shoot the animal and remove the threat to the child as soon as possible. Correct, but by no means easy. This gorilla was part of their family and to have to destroy it destroyed a part of all of them. They are beyond devastated. For those who think they should have used a tranquilizer instead, please understand that to shoot a tranquilizer dart into an already agitated gorilla could not only take longer to have an effect – it would most likely further agitate the gorilla which could lead to displaced aggression against the child. Though I don’t believe that this gorilla meant to harm the child, the bottom line is that the gorilla was agitated, frightened, and highly stressed by the crying child and the screaming public. He was not conscience of his own strength and if you observed how he flung that child through the water (trying to escape the panic), you can understand that all it would take is for that child to hit his head against the concrete wall or cast iron grate while being flung like that to cause a serious or even fatal injury. The stress level and agitation was rising with each passing second. It was tragically the only responsible decision that could be made. My heart goes out to my peers at the Cincinnati Zoo who have experienced a profound loss. Zoo Miami has a personal connection to this tragedy as Harambe was the son of the first gorilla ever born at our zoo whose name was Moja. In fact, Harambe’s grandmother is 49 year old Josephine, who still lives at Zoo Miami and can be seen every day on the lowland gorilla exhibit. What needs to be said to all parents is please watch your children at all times. Letting them get out of your sight for only a few minutes can lead to tragedy. A very sad day indeed.”

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