Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Thoughts on Harambe the Gorilla


There has been so much talk about the incident this past Saturday, at the Cincinnati Zoo. I am sure I do not need to tell you the story, you have heard the whole thing already, right? The story has been plastered all over the news and social media since it happened. But there is a lot of controversy over where the blame should be placed on this tragic event... Did the zoo handle the situation correctly? Why was the mom not watching her toddler more closely? How was it so easy for the child to enter the gorilla exhibit? Did zoo officials really need to shoot and kill Harambe?


What do you think?


So that you understand my own perspective on it, let me first start off by saying that I am a huge animal lover. I am not crazy fanatical about it, but I do have a very soft spot in my heart for animals. I was a vegetarian for several years, mostly because I did not like the idea of eating animals. I slowly got away from my vegetarian ways, although I always feel like I should go back to it. I also will never go to any sort of circus that has animals performing for people's "enjoyment". Those are wild animals who are forced to do things not normal to them in the wild. Plus, we have all heard reports of how horribly those animals are treated behind closed doors. I do not need to see elephants balancing on one foot, or lions jumping through a flaming hoop for my entertainment. I like to see animals as God intended them to be. Natural. Wild. Free.

Which brings us to zoos. I was never a huge fan of the concept of zoos. Animals not allowed to be in the wild, in their natural habitats. However, unlike a circus, the animals not trained to do any tricks or perform, and  they are provided with an environment that somewhat simulates their natural habitats. Also, for many animals who are endangered species, I felt the zoo had it's good qualities. Now, after events like what occurred this past weekend, I am rethinking my acceptance of zoos. Perhaps I will be boycotting zoos, as I have the circus.

My first question upon hearing of the death of Harambe was why did zoo officials not just shoot the gorilla with a tranquilizer instead of a gun? I heard this was because shooting the 400+ pound gorilla with a tranquilizer would take several minutes to take effect, possibly causing him to become agitated in the meantime. Ok, I understand that, other than in this day of technology and advanced medical ingenuity, is there not a tranquilizer available with nearly immediate effects? Also, is there no tazer-type of device that can be used for rare and urgent circumstances like this? Here again, being an animal lover, I am not digging the idea of using a tazer-type device on an animal, however in extreme circumstances like this, I would prefer that over the animal being shot and killed. Most likely, Harambe would agree.

I understand that the zoo did what they thought they had to do. I am sure most of the people who work at the Cincinnati Zoo do so because they have a love of animals and wish to take care of them. I truly believe they acted with best intentions, as unfortunate as the outcome was. Perhaps their biggest fault in this tragic event are the barriers they have set up between the wild animals and the visitors. I hope the Cincinnati Zoo, along with all other zoos, will re-examine their barriers, fences, and partitions, so that a child can not make it into an animal exhibit. If it is their intent as an operating zoo, to care for the animals and provide a way to view them, then they need to take all precautions to ensure safety for both animals and people.

You have probably also heard (and maybe even seen because yes, there is a video) that the 17 year old gorilla appeared to be protecting the child. I have watched the video and it does seem that way to me. The only part that the child looks to be in danger was when the gorilla had a hold of the boy and moved from one side of the mote to the other, pulling the boy through the water. Let's face it, no one knows what the gorilla thought during this situation and what he might have done had people not stepped in when they did. One thing is for sure is that humans gave this little section for the gorillas to call home...and a human boy was suddenly in their home. The gorillas were supposed to be there. The human was not. But, now let's address the issue everyone is talking about...

Why was the mother not watching her child more closely?


I have seen some very harsh comments on social media towards the mother of the 4 year old who fell into the gorilla exhibit. Others have stuck up for her saying no mother is perfect and we all have taken our eyes off our children at times. My view on this? Yes, every mother has taken her eyes off of her child for a moment. Maybe you have even done so at a shopping mall, and went into severe panic mode for 30 seconds when you don't see your child when you turn around. Maybe you got busy making dinner when you suddenly notice your toddler got into the flour and half of your kitchen floor is covered in it. Sure, it happens.

But here is my thought...how many minutes did it take for that child to climb over the fence, through the bushes, and then fall down the 14 foot drop into the mote below? 3 minutes? 4 minutes? I was obviously not there and can only speculate, but I feel it must have taken several minutes for this toddler to make his way into the exhibit. More than just the "I took my eyes off of him to a second" scenario. So, for this reason, I feel the mother is hugely to blame for the death of this innocent creature. I have heard the police and child protective services might be investigating the mother and this situation. Although I am not sure she is a horrible parent, and perhaps this was just an unfortunate isolated incident, I do think this should remind all of us to watch your children closely, always.  





The Bigger Picture?

With all of this being said, it has been reported that the 4 year old boy was not hurt during this. For that, I am very happy. It does not change the fact that an innocent primate, which was in the care of humans, was murdered. Many people are outraged over this. Let us not forget this is not the only time humans kill beautiful creatures. Do you all remember back last year when an American dentist received a lot of backlash over his hunting of Cecil the Lion, in Zimbabwe? Not to mention all the countless animals that are killed everyday, especially in other countries. Do you know how many elephants are slaughtered each year for their tusks? An estimated 33,000 each year! Let's face it, humans are deadly to animals. Much more so than animals are deadly to humans it seems.
This is not the first incident and it won't be the last.
I wanted to write about this and not focus totally on the zoo...or the mother...but to bring awareness to the bigger problem. The fact that humans are a treat to animals. Everyone is upset over this one incident. Rightfully so. Just also think about the gorillas still in the wild who are hunted and killed daily. In the Republic of Congo for example, gorillas are hunted on a regular basis.
Maybe we should all talk more about that.


(The follow image may be disturbing to some viewers.)



This recent event has really made me think about all animals and how we treat the lives of animals. It make me look beyond this one troubling incident and think about the bigger picture. I chose to not focus so much on Harambe, as tragic as this was, but to see what can be done about horrible things happening to animals like Harambe everyday. If we all took steps to help the cause of animals, something could be done. Each step is small, until you have walked miles.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and views. Keep comments clean and respectful, please.





26 comments:

  1. This is a sad story and a complicated situation. I have empathy for all that are involved. There is probably plenty of blame to spread around: How did the child get away from his mother? Could a bystander have helped? Why is possible for someone to get into a dangerous animal exhibit so easily? I have no answers, just more questions.

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  2. Many factors could of prevented this tragedy. It's a blessing the child wasn't severely injured. The gorilla was a sad victim in the whole mess. I understand why they had to shot him, but I feel that they should of done more to protect this wild animal they choose to keep in a cage.

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  3. There are no winners in a situation like this. Hopefully all will learn from it, and this won't continue to happen . . .

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  4. I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. I did watch the video, and I can see it both ways...it kind of looked like he was protecting the child, but when he dragged him across the water/concrete, it was definitely scary looking.

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  5. I feel terrible that the Harambre was put down. I also feel terrible for the parents. One of my son's was always into trouble. I couldn't keep up with him. We went to the zoo and there was a hands on center. It was crowded and he got away from me and I searched and searched along with my husband, brother in law and sister in law. My brother in law finally went out of the building and saw my 3 year old running for the zoo cart which is a whole 'nother story. I was frantic at the time and have never forgotten the fear I had knowing a toddler could get into a lot of trouble at the zoo.

    I'm sure the zoo did what they thought was right and to protect the child but I'm sure something else could have been done to let Harambe live. Whether they didn't have a proper plan in place (obviously this doesn't happen every day) or whether they were afraid the gorilla would accidently drown or harm the child I don't know.

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  6. I feel horrible for the child, Harambe, child's parents, zookeeper, everyone involved. My first thought was why could they tranquilize but then my hubs brought up the fact that it would take more than one & would agitate him to possibly harm the child. Then I read a post from a zookeeper on Facebook (not one from the same zoo) who broke it all down & it made sense as to why they couldn't tranquilize. I also wondered how NO ONE else had seen the kid climbing over the wall and then I read where a lady did see him but couldn't grab him in time before he fell. The whole thing is sad.

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  7. Your post is probably one of the best I've read about this issue. So many people are quick to blame the mother and do not focus on so many other things that went on that day. Most people who are judging this situation were not even there, they have no idea what happened from start to finish, yet are so quick to jump to a conclusion. Seems like people love controversy.

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  8. Like you, I have really had a hard time accepting how the whole story unfolded. As parents, we need to make sure that when we go to public places, we take an extra pair of eyes and hands with us. I am very saddened by this... You did an excellent job of addressing this tragic event.

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  9. This is sad story and being a mother myself social media has allowed critics and fanatics from mother shamers to animal fanatics that goes way to far!! At the end of the day, I am sorry for the ape but like Jack Hanna, Corwin, and other well known animal and safety experts they had to make a tough call and the child is alive!!

    Ursula

    www.blueridgebeautyblogger.com

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  10. This story is sad and unfortunate on all sides. The decision the zoo keepers had to make was not an easy one and if they had made a different one and the boy would have died then they would have to live with that. The mother will have to live with what happened the rest of her life. I do think there are more important things to focus our time and energy on.

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  11. I have avoided commenting on stuff like this because I feel like it's just stirring the pot. However to be very honest...I think the mother and father are both to blame. Everyone talks about the mother, but the there was father there to help. Also...she could have used a stroller or leash for him and let the older kids walk.That way if she had to deal with the older kids than he would still be near and not wondering off. The gorilla issue...I am torn. He shouldn't have died because they kid shouldn't have been there. However...I see and understand why the zoo did it. Plus...lets face it if that was my kid I would want quick and not slow action.

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  12. We put animals in zoos and then freak out when they act like animals. It was not a good situation for anyone.

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  13. I am outraged by this entire situation. I'm upset at the zoo b/c clearly this enclosure was not kid-proof. I am upset at this mom for not keeping a more watchful eye on her child. I am most upset that this innocent ENDANGERED animal is dead. I am grateful that no harm came to this child, but it feels as though this entire situation could have been avoided.

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  14. A split second decision had to be made, and the decision saved the life of a child. The whole situation is horrible. Changes need to be made to that exhibit, obviously. And maybe parents will be a little more attentive. But accidents happen. This one could have been worse.

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  15. This whole situation just sucks! At first I was on team gorilla because animals > people lol.... Then I read a fabulous blog post Jules from One Rudd Mom wrote and I started to feel bad for the mom & like I was stereotyping this mom because of the town we live in and most of the moms being the foolish types to let something like this happen & this mom really was a good mom who made a mistake.... So I really Don't know.

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  16. An expert on gorilla behaviour made a statement saying that the gorillas actions were not protective in nature, they were in fact very threatening and he would have killed the child. There was no question that shooting him was the only way to ensure the boy's safety.

    As for the mom... I was on the fence about her until I saw the video shot by another family in the few minutes right before the boy fell into the enclosure. The mom is seen in the background of the video, and she's completely focused on her phone the entire span of the clip. I think that tells the story about who is ultimately to blame here.

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  17. As much as I don't want to judge the mother, when I'm in places such as this with my twins, it's really not cool to take my eyes of off them. And if I have to I make sure I have someone watching them closely. I am extremely sad for losing one of natures beautiful creatures, especially since they are already endangered.

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  18. Animals are always unpredictable so you can never say what the best decision is.

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  19. It's so sad that they had to kill the gorilla, but I think they do what they think best for the situation. I hope every parents take an eye on their kid wherever they go.

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  20. I really think this whole story is a tragedy. Obviously, it would have been better had the gorilla not been killed, but I think they did the best they could in the situation. I can totally relate to turning my eyes away from my child for a second and them running or doing something bad, so I don't think you can blame the mother. I really think the zoo needs to figure out a better way to protect the animals and people.

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  21. Honestly, the entire thing is a mess. I'm really not sure who to blame, because I think there were a few faults, not just one. All I can say is, I hope people take note, so that this kind of thing doesn't happen again :(

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  22. It's just awful all the way around. I've been separated from my child before, but can't even imagine what I would have done if this were my child. Definitely a wake-up call for us all.

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  23. It all comes down to the fact that a child's safety is more important than any animal's life. However, the world is becoming more and more anti-family and anti-baby/child. I myself have lost reach of my child before. I also go to the zoo expecting that the zoo has safeguarded against tragedies like this. Why would take my child to the zoo, otherwise? I am praying for this mother as I know she has enough self-inflicted guilt over the thought of almost losing her child.

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  24. I don't think the mother was watching her child closely at all if he was able to scale a wall and get through bushes then fall down a cliff before she even noticed. That takes time. At zoos, parents need to watch their kids more closely than usual because they can get away and get seriously hurt. I've been reading that the problem with the tranqs is that they take too long to work and the gorilla would feel it then react, raising the risk of him purposely or accidentally hurting the child. With all the noise, they also didn't know if that would happen. All it would take is a second. They were between a rock and a hard place, sadly.

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  25. One, I think it is insane that kid COULD get through everything, but I also find it sad that we even have animals caged for our entertainment.

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  26. Sad news indeed. I don't know but maybe they should've use a tranquilizer or something.

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