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RIP Harambe


crazydaffodil

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On this Memorial Day in the United States, I want to remember Harambe, a rare western lowland gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, who was shot and killed by zoo staff to save a 4-year old boy who had slipped into the gorilla enclosure.  Zoo officials say tranquilizing the gorilla would have been too slow and a staggering 400-pound animal could have stumbled and/or fallen on the boy.  Commotion from the crowd made the animal more agitated.  However, it appeared the animal was trying to protect the child, sheltering him, dragging him to what he thought was safety.

This child said he wanted to go into the moat water, but despite his mother's insistence that he not go there, the boy went under a rail, through wires and over a moat wall to get into the water.  This did not take 5 seconds to accomplish.  Yes, a child can take such action in a split second, getting out of parental supervision, but this did not happen instantaneously. This took some time, even for a tiny boy, to do.  Once in the water, the boy did not appear overly scared of the animal, until he got dragged by his foot through the water.  Even then, the gorilla appeared to take a protective stance for the boy, helping him to his feet, pulling up his pants.  But the screaming crowd scared the beast and he dragged the boy off through the water again to a place that he felt more secure.  At that point, the decision to kill the animal was made.

harambe_gorilla_killed.jpg

Just sayin...

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EyeQueue

Posted

This was suck an abject fucking parenting fail. How do you let your kid get "under the rail, through wires and over the moat wall"? She wasn't watching her kid and now this beautiful animal is dead.

 

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Palimpsest

Posted

RIP, Harambe. So sad.  Yes a massive parenting fail.  How did the hell did that kid fall into the moat?

Just wanted to say that this, now deceased, gorilla was living up to the meaning of his name.  Pity humans did not realize this.  Harambee in Swahili = 'working together.'  A a slogan of Jomo Kenyatta's first independent government of Kenya.  I remember chanting "Harambee" in the 60s in support of Kenyan independence.  So, really very ironic that the name was given to a captive Gorilla - who was slaughtered after actually helping a human child to safety.  

I approve of conservation efforts to preserve animals at risk of extinction.  And that includes some zoos.  I do not approve of zoos that fail to keep the animals safe from idiotic humans - and major parenting failures.   :(

 

 

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ClaraOswin

Posted

I was trying to find photos of the barriers this kid got through but haven't found any. I am really curious what it looked like. I have a feeling it took longer than a few seconds.

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SpoonfulOSugar

Posted

One description from onlookers:

Quote

 

The screaming seemed to agitate the 450-pound primate, witnesses said, and the scene quickly deteriorated. The gorilla became more aggressive and was seemingly determined not to free the child, witnesses said.

“From what we saw [the child] could have been killed at any second,” Bruce Davis, who was with Hollifield, told WCPO. “He threw him 10 feet in the air, and I saw him land on his back. It was a mess.”

O’Connor said the boy tried to free himself on at least one occasion. “[Harambe] pulled the boy back in, tucked him underneath and really wasn’t going to let him get away,” she said.

Harambe had the boy between his legs and was hovering over him, she said.

“I saw him when he was on top of the habitat, dragging the boy, pulling him underneath him. It was not a good scene,” O’Connor said. “He literally picked the boy up by his calf and dragged him toward another cave to basically get him out of the view of this crowd that hadn’t yet dispersed.”

 

http://fox6now.com/2016/05/30/witnesses-there-was-nobody-getting-that-baby-back-from-that-gorilla-at-cincinnati-zoo/

@ClaraOswin I saw a sketch yesterday that made it clear how much the boy had to get through, but I can't seem to find it again this am.  The zoo's pages are working only intermittently.  I'll keep looking.

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SpoonfulOSugar

Posted

Here is a graphic from the Cincinnati Paper that depicts the barrier.  @ClaraOswin  No photo, but some context at least.

Harambe.jpg

Additional thoughts:  

To climb over the rail and through the bushes takes effort.

Witnesses reported hearing the boy say something about wanting to swim in the moat.  At that point, mom needed to drop everything and have a conversation with him.

The police are now investigating.

I'm not a wildlife expert, but I have rehabbed creatures, including bear and mountain lion cubs.  It's important to realize that they are unpredictable.  Just because he was holding hands this second doesn't mean he couldn't annihilate the child at any point in the future.

We should be realistic in anthropomorphizing this animal.  

I feel deeply for the zoo keepers and the members of that team.

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apple1

Posted

This happened in my city, at a wonderful zoo that has a worldwide reputation for its work. I drive past its entrance every day that I go to work. Today, across from the entrance sit fifty-gazillion TV trucks and vans. This is my point: This tragic event, in my opinion, is being exploited and stirred up to additional controversy by the news media, who are allowing people who to have their five minutes of fame. And let's not be so arrogant as to think that we personally are (or were if our kids are grown, or would be if we had kids) PERFECT parents.

My older daughter once slipped away from me in a grocery store. I had the 2nd daughter in the cart, the older one walking alongside; I only took my eyes off for about TWO SECONDS to grab an item off the shelf to put in my cart. She apparently kept walking around the end of each aisle and into the next as I searched, always being one aisle ahead. Then I heard an announcement over the speaker system about a lost child. Fortunately, no harm. But anyone who thinks this could never happen to them because they are a "perfect" parent is mistaken. And having a 2 or 3 or more kids in the mix only makes it more possible.

The loss of the gorilla is a tragedy. The loss of a child would have been a worse tragedy (if you disagree with this, we will just have to disagree). I do not know the mother at all. I don't know what kind of a parent she is under other circumstances (there is plenty of gossip, but AFAIK only gossip). I do know she has received multiple death threats - and that is wrong. And I do know that the Cincinnati Zoo is awesome and highly reputed among zoos even worldwide, and I also know that it is very easy to pick apart and criticize after the fact when we have plenty of time, and not so easy to make very difficult decisions in a very short time frame. And in my mind there is no doubt that the zoo will use this to improve going forward.

As a friend of mine wrote, it would be good to:

Postpone conclusions;
Take a step back;
Research the facts;
Avoid confirmation bias.
Engage in critical thinking.
Walk in someone else's shoes.
Have a heart for all, not just a few.

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ClaraOswin

Posted

You don't have to a perfect parent to keep your kid out of a gorilla enclosure. On the spectrum of parenting, this incident definitely falls to one end. There's a whole area in middle where most parents would fall. Based on that chart, I feel like it would take more than 2 seconds to get through all that.

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HerNameIsBuffy

Posted

This story broke my heart.  An innocent life sacrificed because someone couldn't be bothered to parent.  I agree with Clara - this isn't about not being perfect...who is.  But it's not a lapse of seconds either and if you can't properly supervise children you don't take them on an outing.

I do feel bad for the child - I hope this is a wake up call for the parents to see that this isn't just something that can happen to anyone and that it's pretty egregious.

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Palimpsest

Posted

19 hours ago, apple1 said:

 I do know she has received multiple death threats - and that is wrong. And in my mind there is no doubt that the zoo will use this to improve going forward.

Of course it is wrong that she has received death-threats.  Of course the life of the little boy is more important than the gorilla.  Of course accidents happen and parents get distracted.  I'm sure the zoo staff are very upset - and gorillas are unpredictable and dangerous especially when agitated - and screaming observers are likely to agitate them.  I hope the child isn't too traumatized by the whole incident.

However, I'm going to start a count-down to the parents of this poor little boy filing suit against the Cincinnati zoo.  That will really help the animals and the zoo.  Obviously the barriers are insufficient to control for a little boy who wants to jump into the moat.  As there were other people around I'm surprised no-one alerted the mother as he climbed over the fence and worked his way through 3 feet of bushes.  Heck, forget the gorilla!  The fall alone could have killed him.

The Pittsburgh zoo settled the civil lawsuit filed by the parents of the child who was mauled to death by African Wild Dogs.  His mother had perched him on top of a 4 foot barrier so that he could see the animals better - and dropped him into the habitat!  Apparently it was not unusual for parents to dangle children over the protective barrier and the zoo had failed to address other reports of this in a timely manner - but who was really negligent in that case?  The DA investigated and decided that it was a tragic accident with no-one to blame.  The parents obviously disagreed.

Wild animals are dangerous - but people seem to underestimate them all the time.  Zoos apparently underestimate the need to control better for the actions of stupid humans who visit zoos.  Good zoos, and apparently the Cincinnati zoo is a good one, put the animals on display to help pay for conservation and breeding programs but perhaps the animals should be kept behind better barricades.  I mean the human animals because the wild ones rarely escape the habitats unless there is a natural disaster like a tornado or floods.

It is tragic.  

 

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apple1

Posted

1 hour ago, Palimpsest said:

... However, I'm going to start a count-down to the parents of this poor little boy filing suit against the Cincinnati zoo.  That will really help the animals and the zoo.  Obviously the barriers are insufficient to control for a little boy who wants to jump into the moat.  As there were other people around I'm surprised no-one alerted the mother as he climbed over the fence and worked his way through 3 feet of bushes.  Heck, forget the gorilla!  The fall alone could have killed him...

Wild animals are dangerous - but people seem to underestimate them all the time.  Zoos apparently underestimate the need to control better for the actions of stupid humans who visit zoos.  Good zoos, and apparently the Cincinnati zoo is a good one, put the animals on display to help pay for conservation and breeding programs but perhaps the animals should be kept behind better barricades.  I mean the human animals because the wild ones rarely escape the habitats unless there is a natural disaster like a tornado or floods.

It is tragic.  

 

I do agree with most of this. And, while I have not confirmed anything, local grapevine (emphasis on GRAPEVINE) is that a potential lawsuit is already in the works. Again, I cannot confirm this to be anything more than grapevine at this point in time.

I could also already guess that even now barricades are being reevaluated. (And the gorilla exhibit here is still closed as of today).

I guess some (a lot, actually) of my frustration is the nastiness of some commenters (talking the world/FB/news outlets/etc, not FJ here) and the large number of people who are absolute experts on both parenting and gorillas.

Tragedy, any way you look at it.

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samira_catlover

Posted

Honestly don't know the best recourse in the big picture, but am feeling really sorry for Harambe AND for the poor zoo staff.

The similar Brookfield Zoo situation (1996) with Binte Jua, a lowland gorilla who picked up a stray dropped kid, cuddled him, and then handed him off to a keeper (my mental note: 'Think you LOST this: be more careful with the littles, OK? Kids are fragile!") was a bit different: that was a female with a 17-month-old-baby on her back. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/06/01/when-a-toddler-fell-into-a-zoo-enclosure-20-years-ago-he-was-saved-by-a-gorilla/

Cincinnati had an adult male gorilla who maybe-might have been more protective of his territory.  (I am NOT a primatologist, don't play one on TV, and don't even have an "Easy" button: please advise of known sex differences in parenting reactions between genders, and tyvm.) When Harambe grabbed the child and sluiced off in a hurry, all I could think of was "oh, Goddess, please don't let the kid drown in all that water, or get badly hurt, because humankids are not as SOLID as apekids!"  Don't know whether Harambe just wanted to get himself and that baby away from scary noise, or whether was freaking out, or what. But given the disparity between a small kid and an adult male gorilla----yeah, I can see the zoo's decision to "shoot to kill" to protect a child, versus "tranq and pray". 

HAVE not seen that zoo's physical setting, but FWIW, I grew up in Brookfield!--(used to visit the zoo for ditch day) and the moats and separations took up some Serious Space---you just couldn't fall from safe-space to critter-space, and it took more than a split-second of a parent's Not Looking to create a problem.

Do it over again?---if it comes to a choice between a human life and the animal life...I'll vote human, with tears and regret.  But am seriously hoping the investigators do some MAJOR looking around, and tell you true, won't weep one little drop if the zoo files a suit against negligent parents who don't supervise....

 

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polecat

Posted

I understand why Harambe had to die. It had to be a heartbreaking decision for the zoo, but it was really the only decision they could make.

But I'm really over all the "stop pretending you're a perfect parent" posts. No, I'm not a perfect parent. But how many parents go to the zoo every single year and manage to keep their kids out of dangerous animal enclosures? How many TEACHERS manage to take entire classes to zoos every year and keep their students out of animal enclosures? This child was saying that he wanted to get in the water with the gorilla, and instead of taking decisive steps to remove him from the situation, the parents turned their backs. I have no idea if she's typically a negligent mom or not. I'd say probably not since she's a childcare professional. But this was clearly NOT their finest parenting moment.

The family’s response didn’t help things, either. The mom wrote a really flippant (imo) screed on Facebook that was basically “Hey, we were on the NEWS! And yay God!” without a single thought to the animal that was now dead due to their moment of inattention or a word of kindness for the other families who’d been at the exhibit that day who’d seen a child fall into the pit and an animal shot -- how traumatized some of them must have been, yet she had no thoughts to spare for them. Not even a thought to spare for the zoo’s loss.

Then someone leaked texts shared between members of the family, where they were all laughing and joking amongst themselves about the “dead ape.” I have no idea what the true context of those texts were, but they were certainly cruel and cold on the face of them. Of course people were incensed.

So yes, I think it’s fair to criticize a moment of what was obviously a bad parenting choice. I’m not okay with the Internet witch hunt that has gone on ever since. I’m not okay with death threats. I’m not okay with people’s attempts to have her fired from her job. I’m not okay with the way people have demonized the child by leaking his picture and saying cruel, hurtful things about him (HE IS A CHILD!). I’m definitely not okay with the rumors of the parents’ filing suit against the zoo. (ayfkm?)

We could instead talk about the need to behave responsibly in zoos and similar public places. They may seem safe -- but a moment of inattention could cost a life. We could talk about taking responsibility for our choices especially when those choices have dire consequences for others. We could talk about being understanding of parents who are overwhelmed. We could talk about how being concerned for the least of these does not make us unconcerned for other lives. We could talk about how animal welfare ties into the wellbeing of all of us.


At least this has fired up people to start talking about conservation. Hopefully, they keep talking about it.

 

First time I've been brave enough to say anything about this. First time I've felt *safe* enough to say anything about it. 

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ClaraOswin

Posted

I hadn't heard about the texts. That's pretty sick.

I didn't know the mother worked in childcare. Not sure what exactly she does. But I can tell you that I used to work in a daycare and some of the employees were awful. Seriously....just...horrible.

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      Edited by xenobia
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      Posted (edited)

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