All over the internet, social media, and on every news source is the tragic story about Harambe, the silverback gorilla who was shot and killed after a 4 year old child climbed over into the exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. The zoo officials shot the gorilla to protect the child, and thankfully, the child’s life was spared from harm. I wasn’t prepared for the graphic video of the child being dragged around by the gorilla. As a mom, I would have been absolutely terrified seeing my child in the arms of a wild animal.
The outrage and outcry from the general public, who all of the sudden are gorilla experts, is ridiculous. It’s absurd how bold people can feel behind a screen. Usually people tone it down in conversation with a real person, but on the internet it’s a free for all with words, petitions, accusations, and expert advice from those with no authority to make those assessments.
Yes, it is an absolute tragedy that the gorilla was killed, but much more importantly, a child’s life was spared because of the wise decision made by the Cincinnati zoo! A gorilla is not more important than a child. Humans are made in the image of God, and yes, animals are also created by God, but they are not more important than a human being. The zoo officials made the right decision.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
Do I think that the mom could have watched her child more closely? Of course! But, I also know how quick and ingenious children are and they can be master escape artists! I have spoken with several of my friends who have very active, determined children, and they know that this could have been a reality for them because it only takes a split second for the child to make a decision in their mind and then do whatever it takes to accomplish their goal! Yikes!
Being a mom is a huge responsibility, and obviously the mother should have been paying better attention to her determined child, but we need to not be so quick to judge and point the finger. All of us moms at one time or another have had the heart stopping feeling of “where is my child!”, whether it’s in the store where young children love to hide amongst the clothing racks or whether at the park where they have hidden amongst the bushes. I definitely think it is tragic that the silverback gorilla lost his life, but I am so grateful for that there are people out there that choose the life of a child over a gorilla.
Zoo director, Thane Maynard is quoted saying,
“That child’s life was in danger. People who question that don’t understand you can’t take a risk with a silverback gorilla — this is a dangerous animal,” he said. “Looking back, we’d make the same decision. The child is safe.”
My own children became aware of what happened and we had some great discussions about staying safe, consequences that result from our actions, and the wild, dangerous nature of animals. We spoke at great length about the nature of animals. They are wild, can be very dangerous, and that is how the animals were created. My children felt very sad that the gorilla was killed, but they were overjoyed to know that the 4 year old child’s life was saved! How horrible would it have been if the zoo officials felt more sorry for the gorilla and the child’s life was taken! I have read some awful statements from people on the internet who believe that the zoo made the wrong choice…imagine explaining this to your children! Thankfully, there are still people who value a human life over that of an animal.
Our society would be wise to take some advice from a young child’s perspective, who doesn’t need to think twice about what was the best choice to be made: save the child, not the gorilla!