On the Gorilla Mom: Remember That Mom in the Bible Who Lost Track of Her Kid?

In case you are living in a cave, I’m going to bring you up to speed on a huge gorilla related news story: this past Saturday, May 28th, 2016, a mom momentarily lost track of her child while they were looking at the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio. Before she knew it, this mom’s 4-year-old son had climbed a barrier and crawled through some wires and made his way into the gorilla’s enclosure. He THEN dropped about 15 feet into a moat. This attracted the attention of a 17-year-old., 450-lb. gorilla named Harambe, who began handling the child. Regardless of his intentions, the gorilla is so strong and powerful that zoo officials felt they had no choice but to shoot and kill him to save the child’s life—and that’s exactly what they did.

gorilla harambe 2

Since that time, the Internet has exploded with outrage toward the mom and the zoo—but mostly toward the child’s mom. People claim she’s a terrible mother for losing track of her child for a minute, and say that she is to blame and should  be punished for the death of the gorilla. I recently wrote a letter to the mom in this incident telling her I supported her and was so sorry for all she was going through—but a lot of people don’t want her to get ANY grace. In response to that piece, I got this lovely email:

No, im not cutting any slack to those parents whose kid fell into the guerilla tank and You shouldnt either. I hope she is stressed to the max an they prosecute her to fullest!

Misspellings aside, (because there are plenty of other commenters who hate what I wrote who CAN spell and punctuate), this sentiment really disturbs me. Are there really THAT many of us who think our kids could NEVER wander away, slip past our defenses? I KNOW I am not above that. I know it.

And you know who else wasn’t above it? Mary. The mother of JESUS. The one GOD chose to give birth to His precious Son. Has there EVER been a child’s life that was more precious and worth protecting? No way!

And yet. The Bible says in Luke 2 that Mary and Joseph TOTES LOST THE SON OF GOD. And not for just a minute! Their family went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and stayed there seven days. When the celebration was over, they started on the three-day journey home, back to Nazareth. But it wasn’t until the evening of the first day’s journey that they realized Jesus, their 12-year-old son, wasn’t with them. Um, WHOOPS. Here’s the account from Luke 2:43-46, English Standard Version.

43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple,sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.

My favorite part of this passage is “his parents did not know it” and “After three days they found him in the temple.”

Let’s RECAP! Mary, the mother of JESUS, whom God chose to parent HIS kid because she was FAR AND AWAY better in character than any other woman on earth, LEFT THAT KID in a huge city by himself, didn’t realize it FOR AN ENTIRE DAY, and didn’t find him FOR THREE DAYS.

Man, it’s a GOOD THING Mary was not on Facebook, or she would have been FLAMED for that major parenting foul.

I know, Jesus was 12, not 4. I KNOW, no majestic beasts were killed because Mary and Joseph lost track of their kid. But holding up an entire caravan of people for 4 days…that might get some people pretty hot under the collar. And seriously, PLENTY of harms could have befallen a 12-year-old boy in the big city on his own.

Parents, and non-parents of the Internet: we need to go WAY easier on the mom who’s child got into the gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo. If MARY could lose her kid for FOUR DAYS, I am certainly capable of losing mine for a minute or two.

And so are you.

All my prayers are with this mom, her recovering child, and the Cincinnati Zoo family as they mourn their loss! But none of them are getting any of my judgement. I think it’s time we put this tragic accident behind us and move forward encouraging each other in love. It will do so much more good than calling for “justice” in the name of judgment and hate.


Don’t miss the latest on the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Shooting—Read These Next!

Dear Mom Whose Son Went Into the Gorilla Pit: I’m Not Casting Any Stones

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

Mom of Son in Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Killing: “God Protected My Child”

Witness to Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Death: It Wasn’t the Parents’ Fault

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.