Mother's 911 call after toddler entered gorilla cage

After her little boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday, the anxious mother dialed 911 to get help.

Meanwhile, a separate investigation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will examine what led to the 17-year-old gorilla's death. "An adult male silverback gorilla has one job, to protect his group".

The family has not been home since the incident but because of the backlash, police have offered them extra patrols.

In a written statement they asked well-wishers not to send them financial gifts, but to make any donations to the zoo.

The incident has triggered a furor online, with some saying the boy's mother should be charged with child endangering, while others want the zoo held responsible for the animal's death.

Officials have not identified the family and a spokesperson said the parents had no plans to participate in interviews.

Police are investigating to determine if charges should be filed against the child's parents.

Video of the incident spread quickly on social media and was broadcast on a loop by USA television news programs.

Jack Hanna, host of "Jack Hanna's Into the Wild", said the zoo made the right call by shooting the gorilla, telling WBNS-TV: "I'll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today". But quite likely, a three-year-old child is alive today because of the actions of the zoo's risky animal response team.

A statement from the boy's family, released through a public relations company, said: "We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe". Our first response was to call the gorillas out of the exhibit.

The statement, which came in the form of a letter to zoo director Thane Maynard, also expressed concern for the remaining gorillas in the pen, as well Maynard himself. At another point, she says "I can't watch this".

It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option.

Zoo staff say they were forced to shoot Harambe the gorilla because the boy's life was in danger.

More than 470,000 people have signed a petition, "Justice for Harambe", which states: "We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision".

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