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
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