Much has been said about the death of 17-year-old silverback gorilla Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, when he was shot death after a boy crept into the enclosure and fell into the animal’s den.
On one hand, people are saying that instead of being put down, the endangered animal could have saved had a tranquilizer been used, and besides, the parents should be held accountable; if they had been paying attention, their child wouldn’t have fallen into the den.
On the other, people are saying that if they hadn’t put the animal down, the child could have lost his life.
But during a wrought time, the Cincinnati Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team had to act, and quickly, and so they chose one life over another, and in the end it was the boy’s.
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe,” said the zoo in a statement, “but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”
Now zookeeper Amanda O’Donoughue is adding her two-cents into the discourse; in a viral Facebook post, she discusses many valid points regarding the zoo’s decision.
She says: “Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first (again due to mere size and strength, not malicious intent).
“They didn’t use Tranquilizers for a few reasons, A. Harambe would’ve taken too long to become immobilized, and could have really injured the child in the process as the drugs used may not work quickly enough depending on the stress of the situation and the dose B. Harambe would’ve have drowned in the moat if immobilized in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.
“Many zoos have the protocol to call on their expertly trained dart team in the event of an animal escape or in the event that a human is trapped with a dangerous animal. They will evaluate the scene as quickly and as safely as possible, and will make the most informed decision as how they will handle the animal.”
In the end, Amanda stresses the importance of animal enclosures, and how no visitor should ever find themselves on the other side of it.
“I know one thing for sure, those keepers lost a beautiful, and I mean gorgeous silverback and friend,” she says. “I feel their loss with them this week.
“As educators and conservators of endangered species, all we can do is shine a light on the beauty and majesty of these animals in hopes to spark a love and a need to keep them from vanishing from our planet.”
READ: The horrifying day my toddler fell out the window
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