Do you think they did the right thing?
Many are placing the blame squarely on the parents of a four-year-old boy, who investigators believe crawled through a railing barrier and fell into the gorilla exhibit’s moat before he was dragged by Harambe in the water for about 10 minutes.
The small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which the mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not,’ according to one witness Kim O’Connor.
The zoo’s animal response team assessed the ‘life-threatening situation’ and defended their decision to shoot Harambe rather than tranquilize him, but thousands took to social media to call it a ‘murder’
O’Connor told WLWT she heard the boy talking about getting into the water before she heard a splash, followed by frantic yelling once onlookers realized he was inside the enclosure.
A video emerged on Saturday revealing some of the chilling moments Harambe was dragging the boy in the water, although more graphic portions were cut from the footage.
According to O’Connor, the gorilla looked like he was trying to protect the boy from panicked bystanders who may have aggravated the tense situation.
She said: ‘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.’
In the video that emerged on Saturday, a woman can be heard yelling, ‘Mommy’s right here…mommy loves you,’ and before saying ‘Isaiah be calm,’ when the boy started crying.
Director Thane Maynard supported the zoo’s dangerous animal response team for their decision to put down the gorilla.
‘They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life,’ Maynard said.
But outraged animal lovers took to social media declaring the western lowland gorilla’s life was unnecessarily taken, and more than 80,000 have already joined the Facebook group Justice for Harambe.