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Neither Cincinnati Zoo Nor Family to Face Charges for Gorilla Incident
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Summary: After the Cincinnati Zoo was forced to put down one of their male gorillas after a young boy fell into the enclosure, prosecutors have decided not to charge anyone.

After a three year old boy slipped past a barrier and fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo last week, prosecutors have decided not to press charges against anyone involved. Investigators had looked into the incident to determine if neglect of the boy’s family or the zoo were responsible for the event that left 17-year-old Harambe, a Western Lowland Gorilla dead.


Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters determined through the investigation that the boy’s mother had three other children with her that day and was tending to them when she turned her back for a second and they boy ran off. Deters explained, “Had she been in the bathroom smoking crack and let her kids run around the zoo, that’d be a different story, but that’s not what was happening here.”

Read Man Killed by Tigers at Copenhagen Zoo.

Interviews from witnesses showed that the mother was very attentive to her children and had “turned away for a few seconds to attend to another one of her young children” when he was able to enter the enclosure. One witness, Kim O’Connor shot video of the incident and recalled moments before hearing the boy telling his mother he was going to go into the enclosure, “I’m going to go in” … “No you’re not” … “I’m going to go in” … “No you’re not.”

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The boy fell around 15 feet into the shallow moat along the edge of the gorilla enclosure. Onlookers began making a commotion, attracting the attention of the gorillas. Zoo keepers quickly realized what had happened and were able to call all the gorillas away except Harambe. He became excited and distracted by the loud noises and the presence of the boy.

See Seven Killed in Bronx Zoo Vehicle Plunge.

Speculation over whether the gorilla was trying to protect the boy or not has been a debate among critics of the endangered gorilla being killed. Regardless of what Harambe was doing, the decision to put him down was made purely because of the damage the animal’s pure power could impose on the boy. The Zoo director explained that the boy was being dragged around with his head banging on the concrete.

This was the first incident the Zoo’s Gorilla World has had in its 38-years of existence. They will reopen with a higher, reinforced barrier.

Do you think this was the correct decision by prosecutors? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about the incident, read Parents of 4-Year-Old May Be Charged for Gorilla’s Death.




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