CINCINNATI, OH — The Cincinnati Zoo has temporarily closed its gorilla exhibit after a special zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla that grabbed and dragged a 4-year-old boy who fell into a moat.
New video has been released that shows the moments right after the boy went into the moat (this video may be upsetting to some people):
Zoo officials say the boy fell after he climbed through a public barrier at the Gorilla World exhibit Saturday afternoon. He was picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes.
Authorities say the child, who has not been identified, fell 10 to 12 feet. He was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he’s expected to recover.
Zoo Director Thane Maynard says the zoo’s dangerous animal response team decided the boy was in “a life-threatening situation” and that they needed to put down the 400-pound-plus male gorilla named Harambe.
Two female gorillas were called out of the habitat, Maynard said, but the male gorilla went to the moat, picked up the child and began dragging him around the enclosure.
“The child was not under attack but all sorts of things could happen,”Maynard said. “He certainly was at risk.”
Maynard said zoo officials decided against shooting Harambe with a tranquilizer because the drug takes effect too slowly.
“You don’t hit him and he falls over,” Maynard said. “It takes a few minutes.”
Maynard said the zoo security team’s quick response saved the boy’s life but all the zoo employees are devastated at losing a rare species.
The western lowland gorilla is a critically endangered species, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s webpage. In the wild, they can be found in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
Harambe, whose birthday was Friday, was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, Maynard said. The zoo hoped he would eventually father other gorillas.