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Statement regarding the death of Harambe the Gorilla

On Saturday, May 28th, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Ohio, a 4-year-old boy climbed under the barrier and fell into the gorilla enclosure, home to the 17-year-old male lowland gorilla known as Harambe.


Harambe’s behavior soon became a concern to the zoo keepers and Dangerous Animal Response Team and, due to the immediate threat posed to the child’s life, the decision was made to subdue Harambe with the use of fatal force. Harambe was shot and killed.


Zoo director Thane Maynard released a statement standing by the decision to shoot the gorilla and expressing his grief over the loss of Harambe. He said that “The Zoo security team’s quick response saved the child’s life. We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”


FOUR PAWS recognizes that this was a horrific and heartbreaking event for all humans and animals involved, and believes that, like with the case of the lions shot in at the Santiago Metropolitan Zoo, it could have been avoided had more comprehensive safety standards been set in place.


This pattern of humans entering enclosures of captive animals sheds light on the dire need for better regulations and protocols. These improvements would protect both human and animal welfare by avoiding the devastating events seen in Chile and Cincinnati. A lack of higher standards is what allowed for the man in Chile and the boy in Cincinnati to enter the lion and gorilla enclosures in the first place. Captive zoo animals will continue to be killed in order to protect humans if visitors remain able to access animal enclosures.


FOUR PAWS calls on all zoos, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden included, to hold themselves to higher standards of human and animal protection so that this pattern of tragic events can be stopped.