The killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy tumbled into the ape’s enclosure triggered outrage and questions about safety, but zoo officials called the decision to use lethal force a tough but necessary choice.
More than 2,000 people signed a petition on Change.org that sharply criticized the Cincinnati Police Department and the zoo for putting down the animal and called for the child’s parents to be “held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child.”
Cincinnati police on Sunday said the parents had not been charged, but that charges could eventually be sought by the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Authorities did not identify the child or his parents. The family could not be reached on Sunday.
A Facebook page titled “Justice for Harambe” had more than 3,000 likes by Sunday afternoon, a day after the 400-pound (181-kg) gorilla was shot dead about 10 minutes after encountering and dragging the child. The animal, named Harambe, was a Western lowland gorilla, an endangered species, and the zoo said it had intended to use him for breeding.
“If we think it’s acceptable to kill a gorilla who has done nothing wrong, I don’t think our city should have gorillas,” Manvinder Singh posted on the Facebook page.
A blog post on the website for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals questioned why it was necessary to kill the gorilla and whether zoos could meet the needs of such animals.