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Saturday, June 4, 2016

The three-year old and Harambe the Gorilla

I was not going to touch the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo, but there is so much material in the incident that I feel compelled to put my oar in.

I'm talking about the fact that a three-year old boy slipped away from his parents and fell down a fifteen foot embankment into Harambe, the gorilla's enclosure.

The fact that it happened at all means that responsibility must be shared between the parents and the zoo, as it was something that was supposedly guarded against. However, I am not about criticizing a family with four children or the zoo where that fencing has been adequate for 37 years. What I want to do is look at human responses that prove that there is no such thing as a consensus of opinion; on anything. It just doesn't exist.

Harambe was a beautiful gorilla and it is a real shame that he had to be sacrificed. However, there will be a school of thought that will hold that he was "just" an animal so what's the fuss all about? In the wild gorillas are routinely hunted and killed to  the point of near extinction, yet there is very little in the way of public outrage as this goes on every day. These same people might even fantasize about hunting gorillas themselves.

Then there is the group who feel that the animal should not have been killed, no matter what. They say that Harambe seemed to be protecting the boy, but he could not have known how delicate this young human was. In his hands the boy was like a rag doll, and it is a miracle that in ten minutes in the enclosure the boy was not accidentally killed or even seriously harmed.

There have been a couple of cases lately where mature humans have entered into the enclosures of dangerous  animals with the apparent intention of suffering suicide. Zoo officials have intervened to get the person out, sometimes at a cost to the animals. I know that officials cannot just stand by while the person realises his goal, but I certainly wish that they would go have a coffee while the man gets to know the animals a bit better.

It is important to remember that this was not a scene from King Kong. That was a movie with a script where it was known how the make-believe screen gorilla would act. This was real life where the people who were watching inadvertently further agitated the animal through their panic. It was a highly emotional ten minutes that could have so easily ended in the death of the child.

There are people who have been quick to condemn the parents for their failure to have kept absolute control over all four of their children. However, something like a simple incoming phone call would have been enough of a distraction, thereby reducing vigilance of four children onto one parent. A curious and adventurous child of three needs even less space to get into trouble.

This has to simply be chalked up to one of those extraordinary things that no-one ever wanted to see happen, but since it did all must learn the obvious lessons on offer.

Copyright (c) 2016
Eugene Carmichael

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