Gorillas and human children

By May 31, 2016Events

Yes, I am talking about Harambe, the gorilla who was unfortunately shot and killed after a child climbed into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo. I am sad that such a healthy and intelligent animal had to be killed. It is a loss for Cincinnati.  Harambe was born at another Zoo, and brought to Cincinnati in 2015 as part of a breeding program. He was an endangered species, as well.gorilla-harambe-instagram_ert2ff

Also, I am glad the animal was shot rather than a three-year-old child being mauled to death.  There, I said it.  The child was way more important than that gorilla. Period.  I love animals, and I am always supremely pissed off when people mistreat animals and then blame the animal for their own faults.  However, this was a life or death situation.  One does not risk a human child for the sake of an animal.

You can blame the child’s parents.  You can talk about how a tranquilizer dart should have been used, or how the gorilla didn’t have any intention to hurt the toddler.  You can Monday-Morning Quarterback all you like. His keepers knew what he was capable of, and they made a split second decision to safeguard the welfare of the human in the enclosure.  Good for them.

  • Fact 1: That gorilla weighed 450lbs.  Tranquilizer darts are known to agitate large animals until the drug has time to work.  So, had the animal been shot with a tranquilizer dart, he may have decided to beat the child against a wall. He may have mauled the child to death.
  • Fact 2: Parents sometimes have to take their eyes off their children.  In this case, the mother was distracted by another child in their party.  I don’t know how many of you have children, but a toddler can scale a wall in seconds.  A toddler can and will do all kinds of dangerous things, because they have physical mobility and almost ZERO fear.  They don’t tell you to beware of two and three year olds for no reason.  They really are terrible years.  Seriously. My 9 year old saved the life of his two year old cousin when he nearly fell off a cliff. The adults were admiring the view for a total of 15 seconds, and the cliff was pretty securely fenced off.
  • Fact 3: No matter how the child wound up in the enclosure, the important thing was saving the child’s life.  Gorillas are still not people.  They are smart, they can do all kinds of things.  They have emotions.  They are not a precious human child.  It doesn’t matter whose fault it was.  Safeguarding the HUMAN who wound up in that enclosure (through no fault of the Gorilla) was the goal.  The goal was met.  I am sad that it had to be that way.

You can rage about it.  You can demand that the parents of the child be ‘held accountable’ in some way. You can blame whomever you want. However, I will sit over here and be thankful that yet another parent did not lose their baby. If the gorilla had been subdued with a tranquilizer dart, and became angry and killed your child anyway, all of these crazy people would still hate you.  Because they are so perfect that an accident could never happen to them.

Read this open letter to the mom by another blogger.  I am not the only one.Harambe-Gorilla-Open-letter-to-the-mother-of-the-boy-who-fell-in-the-enclosure





(who was crucified in the comments section after her child was killed…..because she let her 17 year old son out after dark)


Edited to reflect Harambe’s history


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Author Janie Garner

More posts by Janie Garner

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Teresa Richard says:

    Beautifully said. Amen sister.

    • Stephanie Chiappinelli Correa says:

      Yes Janie, I am defintly with you, of course the mother didn’t have the intention to ignore her child, it has happened to all of us , all of a sudden, the kid is gone, two seco ds is all it takes. thank goodness it is usually not so dramatic. as this case, you find them in the bathroom or with your age defying face cream versus a gorilla cage. She must be grateful to the zoo staff for her child’s life.

  • Anna says:

    SPOT ON! I gotta say, but I was not on board with your claim that parents can’t watch their children all the time. I fully believed that we can. I lost my daughter twice, luckily nothing negatively life-changing happened. However, I blamed myself completely. Then I read the open letter that you included in your blog to the mom. When she said all of our kids Dart in and out of clothing racks, that is truth and I got it. I shared the link on my regular Facebook page. Thank you!

  • Kristen says:

    I love your tag line at the bottom about being crucified in the comments section. But it sounds like you’ve had your own tragedy and lose of your own child. I’m so sorry, I have no clue what the details are, but I am so sorry.

    Thank you for writing this article. It is perfect to describe what happened. These “perfect” parents – heck, even people who aren’t parents but seem to think they know what it’s like to raise children, drive me crazy. Everybody is a brazen keyboard warrior on the internet. And I had no idea the Internet was so full of such insightful, prepared, perfect parents. Bless you and everyone involved in this accident.

  • Mary Apperson says:

    I don’t believe anyone has disputed that the child’s safety was paramount. As for how the child needed to be saved, well, that was left to the professionals who did what they had to do. My sense of outrage is over the parents inattentiveness. I do believe the mother was far more distracted than she is owning and really, the reason why is irrelevent. Yes, children are quick. Very quick. I know, I’ve raised two & I have grandchildren. I have experienced the heart-stopping panic when, for a split-second, I turned around to reach for shoes, and he was gone. Having said that, in this instance, there were far more security points reached before the child could scale up & over in order to fall into the enclosure. I have friends from Cincinnati who can attest to this. As for inattentive parents, go into any mall, campground, restaurant, & yes, hospital and look at the parents glued to their mobil devices while children are left unattended to pull clothes off racks, throw food, crawl on the floor, fight, scream or just generally run amok. This was a tragedy for the child but it was also a tragedy for the gorilla & his keepers.

  • Annie says:

    Oh My! This is a tough one for certain,,,,I, too, have misplaced my 2 year-old -at the World’s Fair in Knoxville TN. This was 1981, BEFORE being a pervert was an accepted cultural pass-time, and I was TERRIFIED. I WAS SITTING RIGHT BESIDE HER. SHE WAS ASLEEP IN HER UMBRELLA STROLLER. We were in a quiet area and I had just received news my Aunt had passed so I was preoccupied with that. My husband had our two older children watching a parade. I looked down and she and the stroller were GONE!!! I SCREAMED AND SCREAMED “SOMEONE TOOK MY CHILD”….2 elderly people sitting nearby were the only people around…and they hadn’t seen anyone. IT happened. The unthinkable…so I am for not blaming anyone at all…Not the mother, NOT the zoo safety features or lack of zoo safety features (after all, NO breach had EVER occurred in this zoo since gorillas had been housed there, more than 38 years) and not the zoo rescue team who saved this small soul of undetermined worth and sacrificed a precious much loved creature. Sometimes STUFF happens. It just does. There is No One to blame. We just Gotta go on.
    PS that 2 yr old girl is now a 37 yr old mother keeping track of her own escape artist. She was found on the parade route 30 minutes later, pushing her stroller (with my purse attached) right on the heels of Minnie Mouse.

  • Arrie says:

    Harambe died for no reason. None whatsoever.

  • Gabriella says:

    My concern is that parents are responsible for the education of their children and this is not happening. Across the board, as a parent and a parent who raised her grandsons, I am all about education. Every step of the way. No matter what the outing is, you must have many conversations with your children about what the dangers are. People say I am too strict and too much on my child’s case about responsible behaviour and actions have consequences etc. But, at the end of each day, they are solely my responsibility. If you cannot handle several children at once, ask for help. Take along a teenager to help you. Pay them. Whatever it takes to keep your child safe. This beautiful, and endangered, creature lost his life due to an unsupervised child and the lack of parental responsibility. Shame. Yes, toddlers can and will do things in a split second. So, if you know that, do not let them out of your sight.

  • Teri says:

    Beautifully Written and While I’m saddened that the life of this Beautiful Gorilla Had To Be Killed When it comes To dealing with wild animals they are unpredictable and the handlers Know the behaviors of these animals Then any if us and When the world begins to value animals lives over human Life we truly Are Becoming extinct on many levels I Love Animals and wish to see none harmed however if it came down to a situation of life or death Between an animal and Human Being That Animal will be killed call me a monster Call me what You will I stand Firm..My Heart Goes Out To The Zoo in the loss of this Beautiful Animal More So My Heart Goes Out to This child and His Family and Praise God This Family Didn’t have to Experience The loss of a child

  • Le Ann says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Rick says:

    Here’s another fact if ENDANGERED SPECIES was in a jungle eating bananas..The kid would be safe, and an ENDANGERED SPEICES would be alive.

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