Wednesday 18 October 2017

Harambe: Cincinnati Zoo barrier not up to standard on day gorilla shot dead, federal investigators find

Report says the zoo's dangerous-animal response team followed procedures in killing the gorilla

A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the shuttered Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Monday, May 30, 2016, in Cincinnati
A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the shuttered Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Monday, May 30, 2016, in Cincinnati

Samuel Osborne

The enclosure separating Harambe the gorilla from the public was not in compliance with safety standards on the day a 3-year-old boy slipped into his exhibit, leading zoo keepers to shoot and kill the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla.

A federal inspection report states Cincinatti Zoo's barrier keeping the public and gorillas separate did not comply with standards for housing primates.

The report, seen by the Associated Press, said the zoo's dangerous-animal response team properly followed procedures after zoo visitors called 911 to report the child had fallen into the gorillas enclosure.

A team member concluded the child was in "life-threatening danger" and Harambe was killed to save his life.

Western lowland gorilla Harambe pictured last June (Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden/The Cincinatti Enquirer/AP)
Western lowland gorilla Harambe pictured last June (Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden/The Cincinatti Enquirer/AP)

Two female gorillas were also in the enclosure when the boy fell in but zoo officials said only the 400lb male gorilla remained with the child.

Since the inspection, the zoo made the barrier taller and used nylon mesh to close any gaps.

It said there had bee no earlier issues with the barriers, which were found to be compliant in earlier federal inspections.

After the gorilla's death, hundreds of thousands of people signed a petition calling for "Justice for Harambe".

The petition called for the boy's parents to be held accountable for "not supervising their child".

In a Facebook post, the boy's mother asked others not to judge her because "accidents happen".

Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot dead.
Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot dead.

Defending herself against her critics, Michelle Gregg wrote: “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids.

“Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”

Independent News Service

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