0318 GMT June 21, 2021
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden said in a statement on Sunday that the zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team had no other option a day earlier but to shoot the 17-year-old western lowland gorilla called Harambe as the boy was in “imminent danger.”
The 4-year-old boy, who remained unidentified, had been visiting the zoo with his family when he slipped through a fence and fell some 15 feet to a shallow pool in the gorilla's enclosure.
According to videos, Harambe dragged the boy through the shallow moat, then stopped and looked at the child.
While some witnesses said the gorilla was trying to help the boy and only tossed him into the corner after the crowd started shouting and screaming, others said the boy was dragged for about 10 minuets from one corner of the habitat to other other.
The incident triggered outrage on social media. Some said the parents should be held criminally responsible for not looking after their child.
Some others, however, said that the zoo staff were to quick to use excessive force against Harambe, as he did not intend to hurt the boy.
An online petition to seek “justice for Harambe” through criminal charges received over 8,000 signatures in hours.
"#HARAMBE wasn't dragging him to kill him... he was protecting the child from the threat of screaming tourists,” a user, named as StrayanRepublic, posted on Twitter.
“If you leave your kid in a car you go to jail, if you let your kid fall into a Gorilla Enclosure u should too!” DL Hughley, another Twitter user, wrote.
The zoo’s director Thane Maynard said the staff made the right choice, as tranquilizers may not have taken effect in time to save the child and darts might have agitated the animal.