Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Texan zoo defends shooting gorilla to save 4-y-o child

Published:Monday | May 30, 2016 | 5:50 PM
A child touches the head of a gorilla statue where flowers have been placed outside the Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden on Sunday.

The Cincinnati Zoo is defending its decision to shoot a 17-year-old gorilla in order to save a four-year-old child who had fallen into its enclosure on Saturday.

Television footage shows the animal dragging the child through water on a couple occasions at the Texan zoo.

The 400-pound-plus gorilla was not attacking the child, but zoo director Thane Maynard says it was in an "agitated situation" and was "extremely strong."

Notwithstanding, the zoo has been facing criticisms for its decision to shot the animal.

"Not everyone shares the same opinion and that's OK. But we all share the love for animals," Maynard told the Associated Press in an email.

In the meantime, Maynard says staffers are receiving messages of support and condolences from around the world.

He said on Monday, zoo visitors dropped flowers at the gorilla exhibit and asked him how they could support gorilla conservation.

He also said the Cincinnati Zoo was deeply saddened by what he called the “very emotional” incident.

The gorilla named Harambe was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, and officials there say he was hand-raised.