Sad- But Necessary
Unfortunately, a Silverback Gorilla was shot to death at the Cincinnati zoo. A four-year old boy had somehow entered the gorilla compound and the gorilla took hold of the boy after an original non-threatening encounter and began to swiftly drag the boy around the compound.
The gorilla was an extremely powerful animal weighing over four hundred pounds. All the while, the child's mother kept yelling "mommy loves you" to the boy. There have been these encounters before and in some cases the gorilla has acted in protective fashion, even gently handling the intruder and returning the child to the parents.
Zoo personnel, however decided to shoot the gorilla when he swiftly dragged the boy through a water filled area of the compound. There were protesters outside the zoo demonstrating against the decision to end the life of the gorilla.
There can be many things argued here: the use of zoos to display animals in pseudo-habitats, the boy's mother for not being more attentive, or the design of the compound which failed to keep a toddler from finding a way to get in.
But the decision to shoot the gorilla was unquestionably the correct one. It was sad that the decision had to be made, but using a tranquilizer would have taken time and one could not predict the effect of the drug on the gorilla. There were also three other gorillas in the compound. The gorilla is such a powerful animal that intentionally or not he could have severely injured the boy by dragging him around the compound and there is no guaranty that the boy would not have been severely injured or killed if the gorilla had become fearful or angry. There was some evidence according to accounts, that the gorilla reacted to the screams of the zoo visitors as they saw the incident unfold.
The importance of animals as co-habitants of the earth, as valued and loved companions, is a good thing. We've come to understand their intelligence and sense of family and affection for each other and for humans, but what responsible parent would risk their child over an animal? Who would accept the blame if the child had been killed should the gorilla have become enraged and suddenly struck or even in an accidental move or gesture have killed the child?
Maybe we should leave the gorillas and the elephants and the lions in the wild to live unaffected by the failings of humans.