Decision to shoot gorilla hard, but right: Cincinnati zoo director

The Cincinnati Zoo's director today defended the decision to kill a gorilla to protect a four-year-old boy who entered its exhibit, noting it's easy to second-guess after the child was recovered safely.

According to Cincinnati Zoo director Thayne Maynard, the kid crawled through a barrier and fell about 10 feet into the enclosure at around 4:00pm.

Zookeepers shot the 450-pound gorilla with a rifle rather than tranquilizing him.

"They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life", Maynard said.

"Any zoo looks at incidents like this, thinks about could that happen here, what our response would be and take that opportunity to learn from other things that could happen", he said.

Witnesses said they heard the boy telling his mother he wanted to enter the enclosure.

Male silverback gorillas are "not aggressive" but instead "their entire personality is for peace-keeping", Professor Kaplan said.

After the child fell into the area that houses the primates, the zoo's gorilla trainers gave the animals a special signal that calls them back inside.

Harambe was 17 years old and had just celebrated his birthday a day prior.

Maynard acknowledges the situation is "very emotional". "But we all share the love for animals".

Jack Hanna, host of "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild", said the zoo made the right call by shooting the gorilla.

Dozens of people were outside the zoo Monday afternoon.

"We the undersigned want the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life". A 4-year-old and when he scaled him up his head's banging against the wall as he's climbing up... But he says the goal of the vigil isn't to point fingers but to pay tribute to Harambe.

"Obviously the child was upset and people were screaming, our security team emptied the exhibit, and the dang animal response team officer came and dispatched Harambe".

People have taken to social media to voice their outrage about the killing of the endangered species.



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