Gorilla shot and killed after grabbing four-year-old at Ohio zoo
Zoo staff believe the boy crawled through a fence before falling into a moat surrounding the enclosure, when he was grabbed by the gorilla
A special zoo response team has shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla that grabbed and dragged a four-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla exhibit moat, the Cincinnati Zoos director said.
Authorities said the boy, who fell 10ft to 12ft, is expected to recover after being picked up out of the moat and dragged by the gorilla for about 10 minutes. He was taken to Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Centre.
Director Thane Maynard said the zoos dangerous animal response team that practices for such incidents decided the boy was in a life-threatening situation and that they needed to put down the 181kg-plus male gorilla named Harambe.
They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boys life, Maynard said. It could have been very bad.
Maynard said he hadnt talked with the boys parents yet.
He said the gorilla didnt appear to be attacking the child, but he said it was an extremely strong animal in an agitated situation. He said tranquilizing the gorilla wouldnt have knocked it out immediately, leaving the boy in danger.
Maynard said it was the first time that the team had killed a zoo animal in such an emergency situation, and he called it a very sad day at the zoo. The lowland gorilla is an endangered species.
The incident was reported at around 4pm. The area around the gorilla exhibit was closed off on Saturday afternoon as zoo visitors reported hearing screaming.
Harambe came to Cincinnati in 2015 from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas.
Hospital officials said they couldnt release any information on the child. Authorities hadnt released the childs name.
Maynard said the zoos Gorilla World area would be open as usual on Sunday. He said the zoo believed the exhibit remains safe. They are still investigating, but zoo officials believe the boy crawled through a railing barrier, then fell into the moat.
The zoo prides itself for its work in protecting endangered species, and has been part of successful captive breeding efforts in recent years in the effort to save the endangered Sumatran rhino.