Before a backdrop of palm fronds, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo, Thayne Maynard, told the press on Monday, that the zoo made the right call in shooting 17-year-old gorilla Harambe on Saturday, after a four-year-old boy accidentally fell into his enclosure.
The boy remained in the gorilla enclosure (and in Harambe’s grip) for 10 awfully tense minutes, during which time it was unclear to viewers if Harambe was acting aggressively toward the boy, sheltering him, or some combination of the two. The boy sustained injuries, none serious, and was rushed to the hospital immediately after the gorilla was shot dead.
Reuters reports that Maynard told journalists at the press conference, “The gorilla was clearly agitated. The gorilla was clearly disoriented.” He added that the zoo staff did their best under the circumstances. “Looking back, we would make the decision,” Maynard said.
The backlash to the zoo’s decision has been swift and vociferous. On Monday morning, animal rights activists held a vigil for Harambe at the Cincinatti zoo. More than 200,000 people have signed Change.org petitions in opposition to the shooting.
Harambe was a Western lowland gorilla, a threatened species of which fewer than 175,000 remain in the wild in Africa.
At the press conference on Monday, Maynard described the meter-tall barrier to the gorilla enclosure as “adequate,” but added that the zoo would conduct a review of the barrier.
Perhaps barrier reform is not far off.