Tags: gorilla | cincinnati | zoo | shooting

Zoo Did the Right Thing

Wednesday, 01 June 2016 10:19 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if we ever discuss the issues that actually matter.

But we don’t. Instead, we get sucked into vitriolic national debates on preposterous issues (i.e., transgender bathrooms).

In that regard, the latest firestorm is animal rights extremists going ape because a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo was killed in order to rescue a human being.

After a 3-year old boy fell into the primate enclosure, Harambe, a 17-year old, 450-pound male silverback gorilla, hovered over the toddler, at times appearing threatening, and dragged him like a rag doll through the water-filled moat. Zoo Director Thane Maynard, fearing for the boy’s life, ordered the special response team to shoot the animal.

This should have been a story about the heroic efforts of zoo officials, the tragic loss of Harambe notwithstanding. But since “rationality” and “animal rights extremists” are mutually-exclusive, the airwaves have been filled with loudmouths throwing a monkey wrench into what should have been a celebration of common sense.

Innocent human life comes first. Always. Is it sad that Harambe died? Absolutely. Is it doubly tragic that Western lowland silverbacks are highly endangered in the wild, and there are relatively few in captivity? No question.

But when you cut through the fur, Harambe is still an animal.

Caveat: the key word is “innocent.” If an adult decides to be a moron and voluntarily jumps into an animal exhibit, all bets are off. Efforts should be made to save him, but killing the animal should be off the table. Actions have consequences, and animals should not be penalized for someone’s idiocy.

What are extremists actually protesting? What was the alternative?

Should they have sung "Kumbaya" with him in the hope that he would join them?

Strike one.

How about sending a team in to distract Harambe? Sorry, but that didn’t work. Officials used special calls to successfully remove other gorillas. But Harambe, who was acting erratically, didn’t respond. Any approach by humans likely would have been perceived as a threat by the behemoth, who, as a reaction, could have deliberately or inadvertently killed the boy. Remember, this is an animal that it can crush a coconut with one hand.

Strike two.

Why not tranquilize him? Because, as primate experts pointed out:
  • It would have taken time to be effective — time zoo officials didn’t have.
  • And, any tranquilizer likely would have made Harambe more agitated. Strike three.
The question stands: if shooting the gorilla was wrong, then what was the viable alternative? Anyone? Bueller?

We’d be better off protesting things that truly matter, like the violence wreaking havoc in our cities (more than forty shootings occurred in President Obama’s hometown of Chicago over the holiday weekend).

The justified killing of an animal to save an innocent child is protested, but the silence is deafening when young Americans die on our streets. Go figure.

The mother should not face criminal charges. What parents haven’t lost momentary sight of their child, especially when caring for several children?

Is she ultimately responsible? Yes.

But having almost lost her son right before her eyes is punishment enough. Criminal charges would solve nothing.

By the same token, she should not sue, as the barrier reportedly met safety guidelines. The mother’s mistake occurred on her watch; therefore, the zoo, and its patrons, should not be penalized because of an individual’s momentary lack of responsibility.

Note: several media publications have detailed the father’s criminal past. That’s disgraceful, since it has absolutely no relevance to the situation. Dragging someone through the mud illustrates why the media is regarded with disdain.

The real goal of the extremists is to close all zoos, believing them to be evil.

Of course, they conveniently duck the fact that zoos keep animals healthy; conduct lifesaving research; and breed, keeping bloodlines alive. The last thing officials would want is one their family members, especially an endangered gorilla and star attraction, being harmed.

Every year, someone falls from a stadium’s deck, almost always the result of irresponsibility. This is followed by a deluge of coverage about how stadium officials will reevaluate their railings to make them “safer.” But that’s the wrong answer, as we shouldn’t be changing things that work because of a freak accident or acts of monumental stupidity.

It’s the same with the Cincinnati Zoo. Its officials acted responsibly in an extremely rare situation, and saved a human life. So let’s end this ridiculous debate, reopen the exhibit, get another gorilla in there, and keep alive the wonderment of seeing animals up close and personal.

After all, this isn’t "Planet of the Apes."  At least not yet.

Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.

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We get sucked into vitriolic national debates on preposterous issues. Cincinnati Zoo officials acted responsibly in an extremely rare situation, and saved a human life. So let’s reopen the exhibit, get another gorilla in there, and keep alive the wonderment of seeing animals up close and personal.
gorilla, cincinnati, zoo, shooting
Wednesday, 01 June 2016 10:19 AM
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