CINCINNATI, May 31 (UPI) — The director of the Cincinnati Zoo defended the decision to shoot and kill Harambe the gorilla after a 3-year-old boy climbed into its enclosure.
The death of Harambe, a critically endangered western lowland gorilla, prompted outrage over the decision to shoot, rather than tranquilize, the 450-pound animal, as well as calls to prosecute the boy’s parents. Cincinnati Police Lt. Stephen Saunders said there are currently no plans to charge the parents.
“We had a very difficult situation and we made a difficult call at the end. I’m not here to point fingers about fault. We live in the real world, we make real decisions. People and kids can climb over barriers. We work hard to make sure this zoo is safe.”
Maynard added that the zoo’s enclosures have been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and that the incident was the first breach of an exhibit in 38 years.
In a statement, the child’s parents said: “We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”
The zoo’s Gorilla World exhibit has been closed to visitors since the incident, and will be reopened after an assessment of its security.