The recent killing of Harambe the gorilla has ignited outrage and controversy. A toddler had fallen into Harambes home, and the gorilla was then shot and killed, as a precaution against the chance that he could harm the boy. Whatever side you reason with, it was indeed a tragedy what had happened.
A zookeeper has now come forward to help explain what was really going on in regards to this recent incident.
Amanda O-Donoughue, a zookeeper with years of experience working with gorillas, took to social media to help explain how the toddler got into the enclosure in the first place, how Harambe acted and what his behavior really meant, and finally she explains, as tragic as it was, why the decision to kill the gorilla, was the right one.
Here is her post which is gaining a lot of traction as it really gives an understandable perspective on the whole tragic incident:
I am going to try to clear up a few things that have been weighing on me about Harambe and the Cinci Zoo since I read the news this afternoon.
I have worked with Gorillas as a zookeeper while in my twenties (before children) and they are my favorite animal (out of dozens) that I have ever worked closely with. I am gonna go ahead and list a few facts, thoughts and opinions for those of you that arent familiar with the species itself, or how a zoo operates in emergency situations.
Now Gorillas are considered gentle giants at least when compared with their more aggressive cousins the chimpanzee, but a 400+ pound male in his prime is as strong as roughly 10 adult humans. What can you bench press? OK, now multiply that number by ten. An adult male silverback gorilla has one job, to protect his group. He does this by bluffing or intimidating anything that he feels threatened by.
In more recent decades, zoos have begun to redesign enclosures, removing all obvious caging and attempting to create a seamless view of the animals for the visitor to enjoy watching animals in a more natural looking habitat. *this is great until little children begin falling into exhibits* which of course can happen to anyone, especially in a crowded zoo-like setting.
I have watched this video over again, and with the silverbacks postering, and tight lips, its pretty much the stuff of any keepers nightmares I keep hearing that the Gorilla was trying to protect the boy. I do not find this to be true. Harambe reaches for the boys hands and arms, but only to position the child better for his own displaying purposes.
Males do very elaborate displays when highly agitated, slamming and dragging things about. Typically they would drag large branches, barrels and heavy weighted balls around to make as much noise as possible. Not in an effort to hurt anyone or anything (usually) but just to intimidate. It was clear to me that he was reacting to the screams coming from the gathering crowd.
Harambe was most likely not going to separate himself from that child without seriously hurting him first (again due to mere size and strength, not malicious intent) They didnt use Tranquilizers for a few reasons, A. Harambe wouldve taken too long to become immobilized, and could have really injured the child in the process as the drugs used may not work quickly enough depending on the stress of the situation and the dose B. Harambe wouldve have drowned in the moat if immobilized in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.
I cant point fingers at anyone in this situation, but we need to really evaluate the safety of the animal enclosures from the visitor side. Not impeding that view is a tough one, but there should be no way that someone can find themselves inside of an animals exhibit.
I know one thing for sure, those keepers lost a beautiful, and I mean gorgeous silverback and friend. I feel their loss with them this week. As educators and conservators of endangered species, all we can do is shine a light on the beauty and majesty of these animals in hopes to spark a love and a need to keep them from vanishing from our planet. Child killers, they are not.