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Cincinnati Zoo Garners Massive Online Outrage for Killing Gorilla to Save 4-Year-Old

A 4-year-old boy fell into the habitat of a giant gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo this past weekend, and the zoo made the tough, split-second decision to fatally shoot the gorilla in order to save the toddler, which sparked lots of online outrage.

The toddler had reportedly wanted to go down to where the gorillas are, and made it past a barrier before falling in.

Someone captured video of the gorilla holding the young child, with people screaming in the background. You can watch here, via ViralHog:

Naturally, the video sparked massive online outrage. People were upset that they made the decision to kill the 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, instead of tranquilize him. Thane Maynard, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo explained in a statement why they felt more drastic action was necessary:

We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team. Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not. It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.

Now, naturally, people are outraged at the boy’s mother for not keeping a closer eye on her son. She reportedly responded on Facebook, saying, “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me [knows] I keep a tight watch on my kids.”

“Jungle” Jack Hanna, one of the most famous zookeepers in the country, made multiple TV appearances today saying he agreed with the Cincinnati zoo’s decision, saying he had no doubt the toddler could have been killed. You can watch his CBS appearance here:

There have been protesters outside the zoo demanding justice for Harambe, and there’s an online petition with 160K+ signatures declaring, “This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child.”

They want the toddler’s parents held accountable for the gorilla’s death, going into some detail:

We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life. We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation. We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence that may result in serious bodily harm or even death.

And #JusticeforHarambe took off on Twitter:

[h/t CNN]

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