A four year old boy recently fell 12 feet into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and as a result the animal was shot dead. Controversy has ensued as animal activists and civilians have chastised the parents for not watching their child more carefully.
The boy’s parents are 32 year old Michelle Gregg and 37 year old Deonne Dickerson. They are now being investigated by the Cincinnati Police Department for negligence. Dickerson has a litany of criminal convictions on his resume. His criminal record includes charges of burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing and kidnapping.
They sent out a statement via a public relations firm and Facebook. “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,” they said.
The video shows people screaming in the background. All of the raucous shrieking in he background appears to have agitated the gorilla, Harambe. At one point the gorilla can be seen holding the boys hand and attempting to hold him almost trying to protect him. After which the gorilla drags the boy through the water.
Harambe was a 17 year old, 400 pound silverback gorilla. Zoo Director Thane Maynard defended the zoos decision to shoot Harambe by insisting that the animals strength was a great concern. “This child was being dragged around and his head was banging on the concrete, this was not a gentle thing,” he maintained.
Maynard stated that the enclosures barriers were safe. The boy had to have climbed a three foot steel fence which has been intact for over thirty eight years. He further noted that the boy had to push through the bushes to get into the animals habitat. Indicating the boy intentionally went in. Which was further verified by witness reports.
It’s clear the zoo made the right decision in saving the child. But they never would have had to take fatal action if the boy’s parents had been watching him more carefully. While what they did certainly was not illegal the zoo should hold the parents liable.