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.

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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

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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.

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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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