Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days or so, you’ve probably heard folks be shocked and upset at the death of Harambe, a silverback Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot and killed after a 4-year-old boy fell into the enclosure there on May 30.
As the days continue to progress, the individual pieces of the story are becoming clearer, which is helping to lift the mask on how dangerous the situation was for the child.
According to an article written in the Huffington Post Canada, Greg Tarry, associate director of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), made several notes about how the gorilla was a threat to the life of the child.
“Even when it was standing over the child in the water, that’s generally kind of a dominance thing,” Tarry said in the article. “He was jerking that child around like a rag doll.”
The move which took Harambe’s life was considered a tragic necessity by many zoological experts, since the gorilla was showing signs of aggression towards the boy.
Multiple sources, including the director of the Cincinnati Zoo Thane Maynard defended the use of the gun instead of a tranquilizer.
He stated, “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.”
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Regardless of the quotes from several experts discussing why shooting the animal was a tragic but needed necessity, many commenters and social media keyboard warriors believe that the life of the child whose life was in danger was less important than the life of the gorilla, as noted in multiple examples across plentiful social media sites.
According to multiple accounts and an article written on The Daily Banter, reactions included the likes of “responses to this tragedy range from cries of “the parents should have been the ones shot,” to, “another innocent beautiful animal has been… killed as a result of awful parenting,” to, “kids are a dime a dozen, there’s millions of them, he’d be one less moron in the gene pool, the gorillas are the endangered species here not brats,” to “open season with $1000 a bounty on those too stupid to live!” to “it’s the stupid cunt who didn’t notice her child wasn’t there,” to, delightfully, “eugenics comes to mind.”
The same article summarized it best when it said “An undulating online army of angry idiots, righteous in their absolute moral authority and bolstered by the warmth of all those Facebook likes and shares, raining fire down on a person or people they know literally nothing at all about involved in a situation about which they simply don’t have all the facts yet.”
While the shooting and the death of an innocent, endangered animal is certainly nothing to celebrate and something to be rightly mourned, doing what had to be done to save a fellow human being is nothing to make jokes at, or to chastise because the process would have taken the death of an animal.
It’s becoming apparent that there is a chance that this is becoming a cultural war in between those who value animal lives over the lives of humans, and vice versa.
It’s becoming increasingly scary to see those who would, time and time again, put the lives and safety of humans on the backburner to save the life of an animal.
Defending animals and their livelihoods, especially if they are endangered species is something that is duly important, and something that more people should become involved in.
But in rare and tragic situations like these, wishing death and vitriol against parents and people who most likely feel the weight of the world on their shoulders does not show the compassion that you want to emit, and it does not show the peace that animal activists and humans alike want to see in the world.
While we should take every step necessary in order to ensure that situations like the ones that happened in Cincinnati do not happen again, we should also be aware that in the event that something like this does happen again, we should realize and acknowledge that the zookeepers and the people that if the situation calls for it end the life of the animal have known the animal for much longer than a bunch of keyboard warriors and desk chair activists, and it must pain them to bring the end to an animal that they’ve known for years, but they also have a duty to save a member of our own species, a human child who is just as unrepeatable and irreplaceable as a beloved animal.
This was not a case of willful, premeditated killing. It was a necessity to save a life.
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Cover Photo Credit: Jere Keys/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)