A woman who reportedly witnessed the moment a four-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure, says the animal was trying to protect the little boy and not hurt him.

Video taken by onlookers shows 17-year-old Herambe dragging the boy around after he reportedly crawled through a barrier before falling into the moat area of the enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo.


Kim O’Connor told WLWT5: “People are yelling, ‘There’s a boy in the water. There’s a boy in the water’.”

She said that it was when the crowd started screaming that the gorilla got scared.

She added: “I don’t know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group.

“The little boy himself had already been talking about wanting to [go into the enclosure] … get in the water. The mother’s like, ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not’.”

The gorilla held the boy for about 10 minutes before he was shot by a dangerous animal response team, the head of Cincinnati Zoo said on Saturday.

The response team used lethal force rather than tranquillisers, as the drugs would not have had an immediate effect, exposing the child to more danger, he said.

The boy was taken to hospital with “serious injuries”, WLWT5 reported, but was not named, and the hospital did not release details of his condition.

“It’s a sad day all the way around,” Maynard said.

“The decision was not made lightly. Lowland gorillas are very endangered animals, there aren’t very many in captivity. But it has the proper ending.”

Many people have taken to Twitter to air their disgust at the senseless killing #ripharambe

Share your comments below.

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  • I think that it’s disgusting that an endangered animal had to be killed as a result of poor parenting. My children are always within reach, most of the time holding my hands, and would never even attempt to do something like enter an enclosure. I am constantly educating my children about animals and safety around them. My daughter is not even 4 yet and I know that she would not think of doing such a thing.
    Bring your kids up right and they will know how to behave properly in public and around animals. It was not the gorilla’s fault and this should never have happened.


  • This is very sad. I really think the zoo needs to look at their fencing


  • this is terribly sad news. I believe he was just simply protecting and looking after the little boy. I dont think he deserved to be killed seeing as though the boy was not harmed, i agree…if the boys mother had have been looking after him properly then poor Herambe would still be alive. such sad news :(
    I am so glad the child is alive and relatively uninjured.


  • I presume the gorilla dragged the boy of the water. Without knowing the full details would the boy have drowned if the Gorilla had not pulled him away. The people should have been ordered to move right away. The gorilla would probably have voluntarily let the keeper take the little boy. It probably thought the boy was being endangered by them.


  • I presume if I was the parent, i would want the gorilla shot if iteant my child would be safe, as an animal lover I wonder where and what this mother was doing that her child was able to climb into an animal enclosure.


  • A lot of things went wrong in this situation. I don’t understand why the enclosure wasn’t more secure.


  • I read about this yesterday and I was so sorry for that gorilla! He was killed because the parents of that child didn’t give enough attention to him! Really not fair! :-(


  • A beautiful animal killed because of a parent\’s lack of supervision! I\’m sorry, but I would have watched the little boy MORE, knowing he wanted to go into the enclosure….


  • I am absolutely disgusted! Yet another animal killed thanks to us humans. So so so very sad, my heart bleeds for the gorilla. How on earth did the kid manage to get in there? Lack of parental supervision I would say


  • Very sad and the gorilla suffered and lost his life due to a parent not supervising their child properly. The zoo did what they thought necessary without risking the gorilla harming the child once darted


  • I feel so sad that because of humans this beautiful creature lost it’s life.


  • I think it was the best decision.


  • It’s so very sad. I’m sure the zoo took the appropriate steps to make sure the right decision was made and they wouldn’t simply kill gorilla on a whim.


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