Cincinnati Zoo Kills Gorilla to Save 4-Year-Old Boy Who Fell Into Enclosure, Child Expected to Recover

A close call. A seriously injured 4-year-old boy is expected to recover after he fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, May 28.

The unidentified child crawled through a barrier at Gorilla World on Saturday afternoon before falling about 10 to 12 feet into a moat, according to ABC News. He was then picked up and dragged around by a 400-pound, 17-year-old male gorilla named Harambe for about 10 minutes as onlookers screamed for help.

Harambe, a gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Harambe, a gorilla from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden/Facebook

After determining that the situation was life-threatening, a zoo employee shot and killed the gorilla. According to a statement on the park’s website, the security team’s “quick response saved the child’s life. We are all devastated that his tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”

The Cincinnati Zoo’s response team decided against using a tranquilizer dart on the gorilla as it would’ve taken effect too slowly, according to CNN.

The boy was immediately transported to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where it was determined that his injuries were “non–life-threatening,” according to local reports.

Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, celebrated his 17th birthday just one day before the incident. The average life span of a gorilla in the wild is 35 years, according to National Geographic. The endangered species is mainly herbivorous.

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