A 4-year-old boy is currently recovering from minor injuries sustained during an eventful day at the Cincinnati zoo on Saturday. The toddler slipped away from his mother, crawled though a barrier and fell into a gorilla habitat, which prompted zoo personnel to fatally shot Harambe, a 17-year-old endangered male.
Footage of the incident showed Harambe dragging the child through the moat before he was shot and killed.
The mother of the boy, Michelle Gregg, recently took to Facebook to speak out on the ordeal:
“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one. For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes…no broken bones or internal injuries.
As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today. Thank you to everyone that helped me and my son today and most importantly God for being awesome God that He is.”
Zoo director Thame Maynard said Harambe failed to obey orders to leave the open enclosure, which left the zoo with no other choice than to shoot him, according to the New York Post.
“Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit. The two females complied, but Harambe did not,” Maynard said.
“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.
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger.”
Another visitor at the zoo, Deidre Lykins, took to Facebook to offer version of the events that took place that day. Lykins called the boy falling into the enclosure a “terrible accident.”
Lykins said it was her oldest son who alerted her to a small child flopping over the railing where there was then “about 3 feet of ground that the child quickly crawled through.”
Lykin said the gorilla was first “protective of the child,” but grew agitated when the crowd became “noisey” and “dramatic.”
“…Although I think the gorilla was still trying to protect, we’re taking a 400 lb gorilla throwing a 40 lb toddler around! It was horrific!” she said.
Lykins said the right choice was made in putting down the gorilla.
Lykins didn’t fault the mother and praised the zoo’s efforts.
“This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation!” she said. “Especially since that had never happened before! ! Thankful for the zoo and their attempts and my thoughts and prayers goes out to this boy, his mother and his family.”
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