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Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla Killed After Child Falls Into Enclosure

Cincinnati Zoo

Update 05/29/16 at 3 p.m.: The Cincinnati Zoo says it had to make the "difficult decision" to kill 17-year-old gorilla Harambe because tranquilizing was not an option.

In an updated release, Zoo Director Thane Maynard says, "It is important to note that with the child still in the exhibit, tranquilizing the 450-pound gorilla was not an option. Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse."

The zoo release continues, "According to a CFD (Cincinnati Fire Department) incident report, the gorilla was violently dragging and throwing the child. Minutes later, the Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team arrived and made the difficult decision to put the gorilla down to save the child."

The child was treated and released from Cincinnati Children's Saturday night.

This is reportedly the first time the gorilla exhibit has been breached since it opened in 1978.

"The barrier that we have in place has been effective for 38 years," says Maynard. "Nevertheless, we will study this incident as we work toward continuous improvement for the safety of our visitors and animals."

Original Post: The Cincinnati Zoo decided to shoot and kill a critically-endangered gorilla Saturday after it began dragging a 4-year old boy who fell into the exhibit.

Credit provided
Harambe, a 17-year old gorilla had to be put down, after a 4-year old boy fell into the gorilla exhibit.

After the boy climbed through a public barrier and fell 10-12 feet into a moat two female gorillas were recalled immediately but a zoo news release says a male, 17-year old Harambe, remained in the yard with the child.

The Zoo's Dangerous Animal Response Team responded to the "life-threatening situation and made the difficult decision to dispatch the gorilla."

The child was immediately taken to Children's Hospital. The hospital is not releasing any details about the boy's condition.

Zoo Director Thane Maynard says, "This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide."

The Zoo will be open Sunday, but the gorilla exhibit will be closed until further notice.

Editor's Note: Zoo Director Thane Maynard has worked with Cincinnati Public Radio for more than 20 years on the program The 90-Second Naturalist and conducting interviews for Cincinnati Edition.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology