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Zoo Forced to Kill Gorilla After Child Climbs into His Habitat

The Cincinnati Zoo had to close its gorilla exhibit this weekend after officials had to shoot one of their apes when a four-year old boy got inside of the exhibit.

Cell phone footage taken on Saturday shows Harambe, a 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla, getting close to a child who fell into the Gorilla World exhibit after climbing over a public barrier. Zoo officials say they called the exhibit’s two female gorillas away when the incident happened, but Harambe picked the child out of the moat and ended up dragging him around the exhibit for 10 minutes.

“I don’t know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group,” said Kim O’Connor, who shot the video and spoke about it with WLWT-TV.

Zoo Director Thane Maynard told reporters that the officials determined the accident to be a life-threatening situation for the child, and that they decided to take action. Maynard said that tranquilizers would’ve taken too long to subdue the gorilla, and he expressed the zoo’s sadness for having to kill a rare species to guarantee the boy’s safety.

“We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically endangered gorilla,” Maynard said. “This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”

The exhibit remains closed until further notice, and the boy was brought to a hospital in serious condition.

[Image via screengrab]

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