In the wake of the tragic loss of Harambe, Cincinnati Zoo’s 17 year-old silverback, many have had their say on the incident and how it should have been dealt with. A zookeeper has had her say on Facebook and, if we’re gonna listen to anyone, let’s make it an expert.
There’s no doubt Harambe the gorilla’s death was tragic and unnecessary, however, should we be pointing fingers at the Zoo’s desperate keepers?
After a four year-old boy managed to breach the enclosure’s security, he found himself face to face with a 180kg silverback gorilla, who many believed was protecting the boy. After days of inquiries and opinions, one Amanda O’Donoughue, a zookeeper from Florida has gone viral with her explanation of the gorilla’s behaviour and has come to the defence of the Cincinnati zookeepers.
“a 400+ pound male in his prime is as strong as roughly 10 adult humans,” the keeper explains in her Facebook post. “An adult male silverback gorilla has one job, to protect his group. He does this by bluffing or intimidating anything that he feels threatened by.”
According to O’Donoughue, Harambe displayed telltale signs of intimidation, from his tight-lipped stance to his dragging of the boy through the enclosure’s moat. While the Cincinnati Zookeepers attempted to call the silverback away from the display, he appeared to stand his ground in what Amanda O’Donoughue described as “every keeper’s worst nightmare.”
For those asking why keepers didn’t simply tranquillise the ape, O’Donoughue had an explanation also, claiming that, if the keepers decided to do this one of two things would have happened: “A. Harambe would’ve taken too long to become immobilized, and could have really injured the child in the process as the drugs used may not work quickly enough depending on the stress of the situation and the dose B. Harambe would’ve have drowned in the moat if immobilised in the water, and possibly fallen on the boy trapping him and drowning him as well.”
The fact of the matter is, keepers were forced to shoot Harambe in order to save a four year-old child. The question of whether or not this should even be a decision keepers have to make, is another one entirely. One must remember the great contribution many zoos around the world make to conservation and consider the incredible blow Harambe’s death would have been to the zoo’s breeding program and income – vital to the continuation of their environmental efforts.
O’Donoughue concluded her rant with the simple message that zookeepers weren’t necessarily at fault, rather, taking their only chance in a dire situation. Care needs to be taken to ensure that enclosures don’t pose this danger and perhaps, that parents are ensuring the safety of their children more vigilantly. After all, fingers shouldn’t be pointed towards keepers so lightly.
USA Today posted a video, outlining the tragic events:
Police are in the process of investigating the event and are working with the zoo on a course of further action.