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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

child crawls into gorilla enclosure ~ Harambe shot dead in Cincinnati Zoo

Gorillas are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous apes that inhabit the forests of central Africa.  Although their range covers a small percentage of Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations. Gorillas are great attractions in Zoos – Vandalur zoo too has one.  In Chennai, the zoo was once housed at Allikulam, Moore Market complex.  The zoo owes its origin to Edward Balfour in 1855.  At the park near Central, animals looked rather sickly in small cages – the move to Vandalur was good as the animals had lots of space, enclosures in natural environ.  

Before we proceed further, there has been debate on ‘whether keeping animals in zoos are right ? – is that a way of protecting endangered species ? or merely providing to man’s desire of seeing them caged ?? – a couple of years back, people were enraged when a Danish Zoo hit headlines for killing 4 healthy lions.   Two of them were claimed to be not old enough to survive by themselves; the same zoo at Copenhagen  had days earlier killed a healthy giraffe, named Marius, to prevent inbreeding !  Recently, in Chile, two African lions were killed, when a man entered their enclosure and started preaching !! – are the animals  safe in zoo !!!

‘Sisindri’ released in 1995 ran packed houses.  The film had child  Akkineni Akhil (son of Nagarjuna & Amala) in the lead role. It was an adaptation of the “Baby's Day Out” – starring twins Adam and Jacob Worton as Baby Bink with co-stars Joe Mantegna, Joe Pantoliano and Brian Haley as the film's three incompetent antagonists. The plot centers on a wealthy baby's kidnapping by three incompetent villains, his escape and adventure through a big city while being pursued by the three kidnappers. Bink follows the story of his book by exploring the city and visiting the same locations in the same order. He crawls onto a bus, goes inside a department store and is briefly mistaken for having escaped from the care centre, stows away in a taxi and goes to the zoo, where he ends up inside a cage with a protective gorilla, and eventually a construction site.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, located in Ohio,  is the second oldest zoo in the United States.   There is outrage after a 400-pound gorilla named Harambe who was shot dead by Cincinnati Zoo officials just one day after his 17th birthday  - with emotional  mourners calling  it a 'senseless death'. Many are placing the blame squarely on the parents of a four-year-old boy, who investigators believe crawled through a railing barrier and fell into the gorilla exhibit's moat before he was dragged by Harambe in the water for about 10 minutes.

The small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which the mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: 'No, you're not, no, you're not,' according to one witness. The zoo's animal response team assessed the 'life-threatening situation' and defended their decision to shoot Harambe rather than tranquilize him, but thousands took to social media to call it a 'murder'.

The zoo celebrated Harambe's birthday on Friday, just one the day before he died. MailOnline reports that a video emerged on Saturday revealing some of the chilling moments Harambe was dragging the boy in the water, although more graphic portions were cut from the footage. The panicked bystanders may have aggravated the tense situation, according to an eyewitness.  The man is quoted as saying : 'I don't know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group.'

Director Thane Maynard supported the zoo's dangerous animal response team for their decision to put down the gorilla. 'They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life,' Maynard said. However, the  outraged animal lovers took to social media declaring the western lowland gorilla's life was unnecessarily taken, and more than 1,000 have already joined the Facebook group Justice for Harambe.

While some defended the parents, many others were less sympathetic.  One Twitter user wrote: 'So a beautiful, innocent gorilla has to die because neglectful parents can't control their kids? Mankind sucks.  Another tweet read :  'Beautiful animals sadly paying for utter human stupidity and negligence with their lives.  As could be read, many  are placing the blame squarely on the parents of a four-year-old boy.

Zoo officials said three gorillas were in the enclosure when the boy fell in the moat, but the two female gorillas were called out immediately. Harambe remained in the yard with the child. Some said Harambe appeared to be guarding and defending the boy, but video footage also showed him dragging the four-year-old in the water.  According to Maynard, the gorilla did not appear to be attacking the child, but he called it 'an extremely strong' animal in an agitated situation.  Maynard explained that tranquilizing the gorilla would not have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger. 

Harambe came to Cincinnati in 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. He is a western lowland gorilla, which the World Wildlife Fund deemed critically endangered.   The child was taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center with serious injuries following the incident.

30 years ago in Aug 1986, a five-year-old British boy who was knocked unconscious when he fell into a zoo's gorilla enclosure on the island of Jersey,  was touchingly protected by a giant male silverback named Jambo, who stood guard as the pack of apes circled.  In the remarkable incident that followed, Jambo stroked his back and protected him from the circling pack… at that time, the father had lifted his brother onto his shoulders to get a better look at the majestic animals, and Merritt decided to follow suit by clambering up the wall. In the terrifying moment that followed, he slipped and fell 20 feet into the pit, snapping his arm and fracturing his skull in the process. The zoo keepers could rescue the child in a miraculous way, reports MailOnline.

So – it appears that Zoo authorities are not to be blamed, it was the negligence of parent, the gorilla inside the enclosure had to pay with its price !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th May 2016.

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