The Killing of Harambe the Gorilla

The Cincinnati Zoo is responding to an incident that recently happened at their zoo. A four year old boy, who managed to circumvent the safety bars at the gorilla enclosure, fell in. Harambe the gorilla, a seventeen year old western lowland gorilla, grabbed the boy by the ankle and took him further into the enclosure.

Reports from eye witnesses vary. Some noted that Harambe seemed to be taking care of the small child, protecting him and standing in front of him. Others said that the gorilla violently grabbed the boy and dragged him from the moat. In the end, the zoo made the decision to shoot the gorilla, killing it.

Now everyone seems to be outraged at the killing of the gorilla, or they’re outraged that people are outraged that an animal was put down to save a child. Protestors are holding a vigil for Harambe, Rainn Wilson reminds us that people are killed by guns every day, Kaley Cuoco and Ricky Gervais are leading a tribute to the fallen animal, and even the Donald is giving us his two cents on the matter. Some people want to press charges against the zoo, some people want to press charges against the parents of the kid. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the matter.

People like animals. A lot of celebrities seem to take up causes for animals, saying they’re speaking for those that can’t speak for themselves. They wax poetic about animals, talking about their majesty, their grace and their poise. And animals are amazing, I have to agree. Unfortunately, they’re still animals, and they still behave like animals. They can be brutally vicious, highly territorial, and incredibly unpredictable. Remember the chimpanzee Travis? He was an animal star, until one day he decided to rip off someone’s face.

People forget that this wasn’t Jane Goodall trapped down there with a gorilla, it was a toddler. And this wasn’t the serene setting of the African jungle, this was a crowded zoo in Cincinnati. The crowd of zoo patrons start freaking out and panicking once they saw what was going on. That’s typically what crowds do. Now you have this scenario where there’s a child, and a massive gorilla in the way, with everyone around screaming and making a scene.

Some have suggested they should have used tranquilizers. Except knocking out an animal isn’t like in the movies. It takes minutes for a tranquilizer to act on the body, not seconds. So for a few minutes, you’ve just shot a wild animal with a dart, which I’m sure is painful, while it’s standing in front of a tyke. They couldn’t afford to take the risk that the gorilla wouldn’t just freak out.

The zoo made the right call to kill Harambe. The boy climbed over the barriers holding Harambe, and occasionally kids will make poor judgements like that. What’s always odd is the number of celebrities that seem to come out of the wood works when an animal is killed. When Cecil the Lion was killed, Jimmy Kimmel was in tears, and devoted his opening monologue to the death of Cecil. Numerous celebrities are involved with PETA, even though PETA is a notoriously radical organization, wanting to end the possession of animals for pets. If PETA had it’s way, you wouldn’t be allowed to own a dog or a pet fish.

I just find it somewhat bizarre that smart, successful people, especially those in show business, don’t understand that wild animals are still wild animals. On the other hand, I grew up in a part of the world where wildlife is common. I’ve been educated in knowing how to react properly to a bear, and understand that although moose look like big, wild cows, they’re insanely territorial and violent creatures if provoked. And that’s the conclusion I normally draw from these scenarios. That if you’re raised in an environment that is more tolerant of wild animals, you’ll find out that bears aren’t cuddly and deer are kind of a nuisance.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Still, it’s not a good thing Harambe was shot. The best outcome would have been a tea party between the boy and Harambe. Thanks Disney, for screwing up a number of people’s expectations when it comes to animal / human relationships.


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