5 Facts We Need to Know About the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Shooting

The Cincinnati Zoo gorilla shooting of Harambe, a 17-year-old male gorilla, is definitely the fastest-growing and hottest news story the Internet has seen in a long time. Because there’s so much information going around, I thought a quick look at the basic facts would be helpful. What do YOU think of this controversy?

1. The Tragedy.

On Saturday, May 28, a four-year-old boy climbed a railing, squeezed through a fence and fell into the mote within the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Video below.)

2. Imminent Danger.

Once the boy was inside the enclosure, a 450-pound gorilla named Harambe grabbed him and, at times, violently dragged him around in the water while the mother yelled to him and bystanders stood in the horror of the situation.

3. The Decision.

Zoo officials responded quickly and took the gorilla down with a rifle shot. Zoo director Thane Maynard said, “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.” Tranquilizers were not an option in this decision due to the time it takes for the drugs to take effect in a large animal like Harambe.

4. Cue Internet Outrage.

The people of the Internet responded in anger–blaming the child’s mother for negligence, the zoo for choosing to kill instead of tranquilizing and, in disgust, some picketed the zoo to make a statement. Because parent judging and shaming is currently the favorite recreational sport of social media users, the child’s mother took many serious verbal beatings, and there is currently a change.org petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures that calls for her to be punished. A #Justice4Harambe hashtag is also trending on Facebook and Twitter.

5. Bottom Line.

Human beings are made in the image of God, above the animals, and are to be valued in such a way. We are to care for and about all life, and it’s a sad thing to take down a beautiful animal, but human life will always hold a higher distinction. These parents are able to hold their son in their arms today because of the quick action of zoo officials.

As for the Internet’s outrage? Sadly, this is just another example of society’s lack of regard for the sanctity of life. It’s also a bold reminder that we need to fight for the value of human life–in all ways possible. The significance of this event isn’t just about the life of a boy over the life of a gorilla–it’s about all human life being held in high regard and protected for its intrinsic value to our Creator.

*Side note: Many people are criticizing the mom for negligence, but if you have small children, I think you know it only takes a second for something like this to happen. Please join us in prayer for the family and for zoo officials.


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Brian Orme
Brian is a writer, editor and street taco connoisseur. He lives in Ohio with his wife, Jenna, their four boys: Noah, Sam, Ethan and Sol; and a crazy goldendoodle they call Lola.