Adam Hills shares his words of wisdom regarding the death of a gorilla in a US zoo. “Four year olds are quick, elusive, and clever.”

Adam Hills is one of Australia’s best known comedians, known for his five times Gold Logie nominations as host of his two hit ABC TV series – the music quiz show Spicks and Specks and his unique take on the late night talk show, Adam Hills Tonight.

There has been lots of anger over the killing of a Gorilla after a four year old boy fell into his cage. Many blaming the parents for not watching their child closely enough and calling the shooting a senseless killing.

Adam shared on his Facebook page….

“Before we all start saying that the American woman whose four year old son fell into a Gorilla cage should be charged, mocked, shamed, and abused – let’s take a moment to consider a few things.

Firstly – do you know how hard it is to control a four year old? According to some reports, the kid climbed over a safety fence, while some onlookers tried to stop him. Was the mother in charge of other kids as well? If so, do you have any idea how quickly a child can escape your attention?

Bam! It happens. You look away for a split second and your toddler is suddenly walking out the front door, playing with an electrical cord, or trying to get into the pool.

Kids love climbing into the pool. That’s why we have laws in Australia that make sure every pool has a child-proof barrier. And if a child is able to breach that barrier, you get fined. A lot. And they conduct regular checks to make sure children can’t breach the barrier. Because they know that even the most diligent parent can’t possibly keep an eye on their children at absolutely every moment.

I take my two-year old to the Zoo all the time. You know what she says whenever we see an animal she likes? “I want to go in there”. Whenever she sees the gorillas she says “I want to cuddle them”.

So I let her walk up to the window, or to the fence that surrounds the monkeys, or to the cage that houses the lions, because I know there’s no way in hell she can get in.

The last time I took her to the Zoo we were looking at the lions. She was sitting in a jeep that jutted up against the window. I took a photo that made it look like she was driving towards a lion.

My mum was with us, and pointed out one of the younger lions on the far side of the cage. As I turned to look at the cubs, my daughter decided to get out of the jeep on her own, tripped and cut her lip open on the ground. I had looked away for a split second, and in that moment my daughter had split her lip.

I was angry at my mum for distracting me, but in truth, shit like this happens when you’ve got a kid sometimes. Accidents happen. Does that make me a bad parent? It felt like it at the time, but the only way I could have avoided the incident was to be watching my daughter at every conceivable second – and that just isn’t possible.

Now, imagine if instead of being in a jeep, she was standing at a fence. Imagine if instead of trying to dismount the jeep, she decided to cuddle a lion. And imagine if there was a way that she could actually have breached the fence. Shit would have got real, very quickly. An accident would have happened.

According to one report, the child at the Cincinnati Zoo scaled a three-foot fence. Three feet? That’s a metre. The fence around my swimming pool is higher than that, and has been checked to make sure it can’t be climbed by a child. I can’t even have pot plants near the fence in case they can be used as a climbing aid. Are you telling me my swimming pool is more secure than the gorilla enclosure at a metropolitan zoo?

You can’t keep an eye on your child at absolutely every moment of the day. Sometimes you can’t react quickly enough even when you are watching them. Sometimes a stranger will step in, sometimes you get lucky, but sometimes an accident happens, and through it all, you just hope that there are safety procedures in place to stop shit going wrong.

So before we all start rounding on that “careless parent” who “let their child walk into a gorilla enclosure” and then said “accidents happen”, let’s remember a few things.

1) The best parents in the world can lose sight of their children for a split second.

2) Four year olds are quick, elusive, and clever.

3) Sometimes, accidents happen.

Which is why
4) A gorilla enclosure at a public zoo should be secure enough that a four year old can’t get into it.”

He does make some pretty good points!

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  • my two year old has already figured out how to unlock our front door and take off after the Postie, we have to lock the fly screen door with the key to keep him contained, the other door I walked in to the kitchen to find him climbing he pantry shelves! The little buggers are fast and clever!!


  • I blame the zoo, the fence should be child proof


  • Finally, some sense about this whole ordeal. It’s tragic that the gorilla died but I agree, the zoo is liable and has a duty of care to ensure that NO-ONE can get into the enclosure. And really, at the end of the day, aren’t we all grateful that nothing happened to this little boy?!


  • Well, the zoo surely has its responsibility on this terrible death. That fence should have been higher. It was just too easy for a small child to climb it.
    Still very sad for that gorgeous gorilla. :-(


  • well said…some very good points made


  • I agree that the enclosure should have been more secure. I think people get angry when animals are killed or culled for simply doing what is in their nature.


  • Terrifying for the mother and no doubt the child, but life ending for the poor old gorilla


  • So very true! It’s almost surprising a similar incident had not happened sooner.


  • Agree hole heartedly, good on Adam, it is true what is this fence like at the zoo if a kid can get through and get near a 200kg gorilla!!!!


  • I think they did the right thing – imagine the s*** that would have rained down if they hadn’t shot the gorilla and the kid died. And Adam is right – kids move so fast!


  • This is such a sad story. At the end of the day though human life does come before an animals however sad it is.


  • He sure does make some valid points. I think everyone can agree that this is a tragic incident with very sad end but blaming anyone won’t alter what happened. All we can do is learn from this and do everything humanly possible that it won’t again.


  • I wish there was an alternative to death of an endangered animal


  • It is a shame the gorilla had to be put down but we don’t know what would have happen if he wasn’t.Glad the child was not hurt.


  • Well said Adam hills. I totally agree


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