As I am sure many of you know by now, earlier this week a tragedy ensued at the Cincinnati Zoo when a 4-year-old child fell into the gorilla exhibit. The situation came to the tragic conclusion of the 17-year-old male gorilla, Harambe, being shot and killed.
And people were absolutely outraged. Some people attacked the Zoo for deciding to shoot the animal, others blamed the Zoo for not having enough safety measures to keep the 4-year-old out of the enclosure, and the most common cry of outrage is directed toward the mother of the child. Accusations of negligence have been slung towards the mother and criticisms have been made about her not taking the situation seriously enough.
This situation is just terrible all around. Firstly, I would like to defend the Zoo's decision to shoot Harambe. Yes, I am aware that his species was endangered and he is just an innocent animal, but in this situation, you have to weigh the life of a child and the life of an animal.
Some people may have seen gray areas when it comes to this, and I ask these people to ask themselves the question, "What if that was your child?" You would not hesitate for a second to order the death of that gorilla. A human life is worth more than an animal life, and I believe anyone that says differently is simply lying to look more in touch with nature or some other nonsense. We all would make that same call in a similar high-pressure situation.
Secondly, the argument for using a tranquilizer on the gorilla is just as flawed. Contrary to the movies, shooting a 400-pound pile of muscle with tranquilizers won't make it instantly pass out, and what happens if the gorilla feels threatened or is angered by getting shot? Do you not think he might harm the child he's been dragging around the enclosure like a rag doll? The Zoo made the right call in shooting Harambe, but why did this situation even have to occur in the first place?
Negligence is the cry. Either negligence of the Zoo or negligence of the mother. In either scenario, someone slacked in their duty to protect this child and Harambe had to pay the ultimate price.
After finding this picture of what the enclosure looks like, my only conclusion can be that this situation resulted from the parent's negligence. According to this petition, the child had been previously trying to enter the enclosure and vocalizing his desire to enter the enclosure, and the mother did not remove the misbehaving child from this situation. The child had to have been unsupervised for long enough to get over the fence and then fall into the moat in the enclosure.
I don't think this situation is the Zoo's fault at all. In my opinion, they acted correctly in all aspects. The person at fault here is the mother of the child. However, how do we go forward from this? Do we give the mother a quick slap on the wrist and send her on her merry way and hope this serves as an example? Or does she deserve to be charged for negligence that resulted in the death of an endangered animal?
I personally do not know. Even though I think this is the mother's fault, there is no telling what reasons she had for not paying attention to her child. After all, she is only human.
Did the child legitimately get into the enclosure in the blink of an eye or before she could react? There are many unknowns here, and since I was not there, I cannot possibly know what really happened in those crucial moments. So, what actually is justice for Harambe?