Tags: Animal Experts | Jack Hanna | Jeff Corwin | Back | Zoo | Gorilla

Animal Experts Jack Hanna, Jeff Corwin Back Zoo's Decision to Kill Gorilla

(CNN's "New Day"/Twitter)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 May 2016 10:57 AM

Animal experts Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin on Tuesday defended the Cincinnati Zoo and its decision to shoot and kill a male silverback gorilla last week after a young boy sneaked into its zoo enclosure and was grabbed by the large ape.

"You don't know with a silverback," Hanna, the famed Columbus [Ohio] zoo director and television star, told CNN's "New Day" program. "I've seen them in the wild. The younger male with an older male. I've seen a gorilla take a green coconut you can't even open with a sledgehammer, seen him take it and squish it like a marshmallow."

Outrage is mounting among animal lovers after zookeepers in Cincinnati shot the gorilla, with more than 200,000 people signing a petition to protest the decision and many calling for the four-year-old boy's parents to be held accountable.

Witnesses said they heard the boy telling his mother he wanted to enter the enclosure and minutes later slipping behind a barrier and falling about 15 feet into the habitat. The boy is reportedly recovering from his injuries at home.

But Hanna said that the massive 17-year-old male gorilla, named Harambe, may have killed the boy in a "split second," even though it may appear that the ape was protecting the boy.

"What if it were your child in there, what would you say?" said Hanna. "It's a no-win situation for the Cincinnati Zoo . . . None of us like to do what had to be done, but a terrible situation did the right thing and they had to do it. We're not sitting here talking today about the life of a child. That's what I say."

Hanna has a house in Rwanda, Africa, and has seen silverback gorillas in the wild and knows their behavior well, and that while it may have looked like the boy was under the gorilla's protection, "the gorilla was very alarmed, upset."

And while some gorillas may pick up a child and hold it under the same situation, in other cases, like in Cincinnati, "you have a stick of dynamite."

"With people screaming upstairs, you understand, that gorilla is totally confused," said Hanna, and tranquilizing it would not have worked, as it would have antagonized the "beyond upset" gorilla.

"The minute it's shot with a tranquilizer, you have a child; I don't want to go into it," said Hanna. "You wouldn't want to know."

Meanwhile, animal expert and nature conservationist Jeff Corwin, the host and executive producer of TV programs "The Jeff Corwin Experience" and "Corwin's Quest, told Fox News's "Fox & Friends" Tuesday that it is easy to play "Monday morning quarterback," but the situation had reached "that point of no return."

"They were terrified about the survival of this child," said Corwin. "On the other side you have a critically endangered species, an animal, this gorilla, that through no fault of it own finds itself in this chaotic situation. It's really hard to kind of pinch out the answer there.

"The Cincinnati Zoo is an incredible zoo. They connect millions of urban kids every year to nature. They're on the frontlines of conservation in Africa and protecting gorillas and saving rhinos. It's a tragic event. It is hard for us on Tuesday morning to tell them what should have been done."

But when it comes to blaming the boy's parents for the ape's death, Corwin noted that he himself has turned around in a supermarket and couldn't find his own children, but at the same time, "this is a zoo."

"This is not Disney World and animatronics," he told the program. "Common sense is important. We need to be responsible for our children. Yes, accidents do happen, but ultimately we have children, we're responsible for their behavior . . . this was terribly tragic and ultimately one of the most endangered species on the planet paid the worst price possible."


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Animal experts Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin on Tuesday defended the Cincinnati Zoo and its decision to shoot and kill a male silverback gorilla last week after a young boy sneaked into its zoo enclosure and was grabbed by the large ape.
Animal Experts, Jack Hanna, Jeff Corwin, Back, Zoo, Gorilla
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Tuesday, 31 May 2016 10:57 AM
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