Today, a 400-pound gorilla named Harambe was killed murdered at the Cincinnati Zoo. Harambe had just celebrated his 17th birthday on Friday. Harambe’s death is directly attributable to the parent or parents of the four-year-old boy who, apparently unwatched and unsupervised, climbed into the gorilla enclosure. Neither the child nor the parents have been named in the media as yet, else I would certainly use the parents’ names in this post. The death of an innocent animal rests on their shoulders and I hope lays heavily on their consciences. Please note that I do not blame the child … a 4-year-old child does not have the experience nor the mental capacity to understand the danger … that is why children have parents!
The boy climbed between the bars into the gorilla enclosure, fell into a moat, escaping serious injury. Then Harambe, probably thinking “Oh goodie! A new toy!”, grabbed the child and was carrying him around the enclosure. The zoo’s dangerous animal response team watched for 10 minutes … 10 minutes during which, had they tranquilized the animal, he would have fallen asleep and they could have rescued the child … before ultimately deciding to shoot and kill poor Harambe. The child was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The gorilla is dead.
While I am certainly glad the child was not seriously injured, I would like to give the parent or parents 10 lashes with a cat o’ nine tails. At the very least, I think they should be charged with child neglect, child endangerment, and investigated to determine whether they are, in fact, actually fit to be parents.
Last May (2015) a male wolf at the Menominee Park Zoo in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, was killed after authorities say it bit a child. The child went into a non-public area, put his or her fingers through a fence and received minor injuries to two fingers when the wolf bit them. WHERE WERE THE CHILD’S PARENTS?
In 2014, a child fell into the jaguar exhibit at the Little Rock (Arkansas) Zoo. Again, where were the parents? Were they too busy snapping pictures or munching on snacks to be bothered to monitor their own children?
This morning as I was walking in the park, a young girl, probably around age 6, stopped me to talk about the ducks that had wandered into the park, as they sometimes do after a rainfall. I chatted with her for a moment, and as I was about to proceed with my walk, she said “I want to pet them”. I took another moment to explain to her why that might not be a very good idea, then went on with my walk. Suddenly it dawned on me that there was no parent, older sibling, nor anybody with this child. She was completely unsupervised, and she and I were the only two humans in the park at that time. Zero parental supervision at 8:30 on a Saturday morning! There could have been a serial killer, the child could have fallen from the swing she was on, anything could have happened to her. No parents. Too busy sleeping in, watching television, or doing whatever to be bothered to walk to the park and supervise their child.
Animals behave as their instincts, developed over thousands of years, guide them. It is not reasonable to expect otherwise. Harambe was not intentionally hurting the child who climbed into his enclosure … he was simply doing what came naturally, carrying him around and playing with him. In all of the above cases, zoo officials referred to the incidents as ‘regrettable’. I say they are criminal. If parents cannot or will not stay close to their children and take care of them, then they have no right to take them into a zoo, amusement park or other venue where there is potential danger. Today, parents seem altogether content to turn their young children loose on the world and expect them to simply be okay, then when something happens, they file lawsuits and blame everyone except the truly guilty party: themselves.