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Thoughts on a Gorilla and a Child

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Mom. Homeschooler. Editor. Wife. These are a few words to describe notyouraverageal. Her life is anything but average.


The News Has Spread Quickly

As you have probably read, a child fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, May 28, 2016. This story has been posted so many times on Facebook as well as other social media sites. Immediately, people started commenting, and a public outcry began. Memes were already popping up in defense of the Harambe, the gorilla.

Many of the comments I read were inflammatory and degrading, to say the least. Some of them were not worth repeating. However, there were some comments that were made over and over again, and I felt compelled to respond.

Here's the story, in case you missed it:

Where Was The Mother?

This was the first thing that popped into my mind, and it has been repeated in comments over and over. "Where was the mother?"

My first reaction was to judge the parents, especially the mother. How in the world did this child get into the gorilla enclosure? How long did this mother have her back turned from him to allow him to slip through the safety precautions that were surely in place? (I mean, this is 2016, after all. You KNOW there were safety precautions.)

According to the link posted above, witnesses said the child's mother was busy dealing with her other children. She apparently had several with her and had turned to handle someone else's issue at that point.

It's so easy to accidentally turn your back on your child in a crowd!


It Happens to All of Us.

When I heard that the mother had been distracted by her other kids, I had to step down off my high horse of judgment.

Mothers and fathers, put down your pitch forks and be honest with yourselves for a moment. How many of you have turned your back and lost a child? I know I have, in Wal-mart, on a very crowded day. It happens. It happens to the worst of parents, who are neglectful and uncaring, but it also happens to the best of parents, who have the best intentions.

We all make mistakes with our kids. Some of us punish our son and then find out later it wasn't his fault. Some of us forget to send a signed form to school. Some of us lose our kids momentarily in a store. And, unfortunately, one of us turned her back on her obvious very curious child just long enough to let him fall into harm's way. Bless this mother's heart.

We all make mistakes. And if you are sitting there right now thinking you never made a mistake with one of your kids, you're lying to yourself. We all have. We are human. Mothers and fathers are going to mess up. Luckily, all our mess ups don't end up on the 6:00 news.

This would have been me if that had been my baby! (If only I looked that good in a bikini...)


Why Didn't the Mother Jump In?

This was one of my thoughts too. In the video, you can hear the mother telling the little boy, "Mom's right here," and, "Mom loves you."

Some people criticized the mother for sounding so calm. I have to say, I give credit to her for being calm. I know, in that situation, I would have been screaming. However, screaming would have only gotten the little boy upset, which would have further agitated the gorilla. This mother showed much more self control than I would have.

However, I do wonder why the mother didn't jump in. I'm scared of heights and of basically any live animal, but I can't imagine that would have stopped me. My history has shown that, if my "bear cubs" are threatened, this mama bear goes into action first and asks questions later. I'm pretty sure my first reaction would have been to jump into that enclosure and demand that the gorilla take his hands off my child. ("Mother mauled to death by gorilla. News at 6:00.")

I don't know why this mother didn't jump in, but who are we to speculate? As the saying goes, we haven't walked a mile in her shoes.

Why Did They Have To Kill The Gorilla?

Let's see if we can break this down. The gorilla weighed about 400 pounds. He had big teeth and big claws. He was agitated and scared because of the screaming humans all around him.

The little boy weighed probably 30 pounds.

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While the gorilla's intentions may have been to protect that little boy, his actions were dangerous. It might be okay to drag a baby gorilla through water at a high speed, but it's not safe to do that to a human baby.

We don't know all the details of this gorilla's past behaviors, but I guarantee you those zookeepers did. They had logged and charted everything from how many times this gorilla pooped in a day to how many times he scratched himself. They knew this gorilla. They cared for him on a daily basis. Chances are, they were attached to and felt love for this gorilla. Yet, they shot him.

Perhaps, that should tell us something. Perhaps, if approached while in the presence of that little boy, the gorilla would have ripped him apart, limb by limb. We don't know, but I'll bet the zookeepers did. And they shot him. Trust their decision.

Perhaps, Harambe was trying to protect the child, just like this mother gorilla protects her baby.


Here's an earlier video of Harambe.

Why Didn't They Use a Tranquilizer?

I can't answer this. I wondered the same thing. Shooting the gorilla, when he seemed to be trying to protect the child, seems extreme.

However, again, we don't know the whole situation. I'm pretty sure a zoo, whose mission is to preserve endangered species, would not have shot the endangered animal if they didn't feel they had to.

They Should Have Let the Child Die and Saved the Gorilla.

For this comment, I have no words.

Actually, I take that back. I do have words.

This is a human child. He has a soul. He has a mother and father and a family who love him. He has a God who loves him.

The gorilla was a beautiful animal, and he most likely has a family, as well. He is part of God's creation. However, he is a creature. Creatures were put on earth for humans and not the other way around.

Don't get me wrong. I am so sad that this gorilla was killed. However, any time there is a choice between a human and an animal, I'm voting for the human.

The idea that anyone would vote otherwise really makes me worry about our society.

I wish we could free them all!


All The Zoo Animals Should be Freed.

In a perfect world, I totally agree with this comment. I wish we did not have zoos where wild animals were kept in captivity. (And don't even get me started on circuses...) I do believe in animal rights. I just don't believe animal rights are more important than human rights.

However, this is not a perfect world. We live in a world with overcrowding and pollution and all kinds of issues. Humans have done a great job of destroying the habitats of many types of animals. They would die out complete if not for breeding programs at zoos. So, I would have to say alive in captivity is better than extinct.

Time to Build Up

I am so sad by this whole situation. Watching the video of the poor, scared gorilla dragging that poor, scared little boy around put tears in my eyes. It was a horrible situation all the way around.

I had a German shepherd snap at me when I was 3 years old. I'm 43, and I'm still scared of big dogs.

Can you imagine the fears and emotional issues this child (and his siblings) will face?

Can you imagine the sadness the zookeepers feel about having to shoot such a majestic creature?

Can you imagine the trauma the bystanders encountered?

This is a sad, terrible situation. Instead of ripping each other apart through ugly comments and comebacks on social media, let's unite and mourn an awful occurrence. Let's give this family, this poor mother, some grace and realize that we are all humans. Let's remember the beautiful gorilla who, in his own overpowering way, tried to protect a child. Let's think of the zookeepers as they grieve a loss. Let's stop tearing each other down and build each other up.


Stella Kaye from UK on May 31, 2016:

A well-balanced article dealing with a difficult dilemma. The only thing I don't agree with is your view that animals were put on this earth for people and that is perhaps another subject worthy of debate on Hubpages!

Something needs to be done to prevent further incidents of this nature so barriers need to be 100% secure and effective. Authorities manage to separate inmates from visitors in prisons and suchlike and by that reckoning they can just as easily do it in a zoo to separate people from wild animals. Children can slip through the smallest of openings and that together with an off-guard parent is a recipe for disaster.

Al (author) from Florida on May 30, 2016:

I'm not sure I would have been level headed enough to think through what could happen with the other kids if I jumped in. See? She definitely showed more self control than I would!

Mommydl on May 30, 2016:

Hey Al, I have to admit I haven't watched the video or chimed in anywhere about it. I even checked the box that says I don't want to see this (because I keep seeing it). With that being said, the only thing I can think that would have kept her from jumping would be those other children she was caring for. What if she got in there and caused the gorilla to go crazy and it hurt her and/or the child. Then what? Also, where is Dad? Isn't he to blame for sending her off to the zoo with a brood and no help? Now go read The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate. Hugs! Mommydl

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