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Cincinnati Zoo Director Defends Decision To Kill Gorilla

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard says the Zoo is a safe place and it is regularly reviewing safety.

Update 06/01/16:  The family of the child who fell into the exhibit issued this statement Wednesday:

“Our child has had a checkup by his doctor and is still doing well. We continue to praise God for His grace and mercy, and to be thankful to the Cincinnati Zoo for their actions taken to protect our child.

We are also very appreciative for the expressions of concern and support that have been sent to us. Some have offered money to the family, which we do not want and will not accept. If anyone wishes to make a gift, we recommend a donation to the Cincinnati Zoo in Harambe’s name.”

The family continues to decline all interview and meeting requests.

Update 05/31/16:  Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters issued this statement Tuesday morning: 

“The incident at the Cincinnati Zoo involving the young child who fell into the gorilla enclosure is under investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department.  Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges.  When the investigation and review are complete, we will update the media.”

Original Post:  The Director of the Cincinnati Zoo says killing its 17-year old gorilla named Harambe was the only option given his strength, his agitation and disorientation, and risk of darting him since it wouldn't immediately take effect.

Thane Maynard's comments come after a 4-year old boy climbed into Gorilla World Saturday and fell into the moat below. It was then Harambe grabbed the boy and began dragging him.

The Zoo's DART team shot the gorilla and rescuers got the boy out of the exhibit. He was released from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Sunday.

The child's parents have faced a social media backlash for not keeping track of their child.

Maynard talked about what the death of the gorilla will mean for the zoo. "This is a very big loss to the Zoo, not just an emotional loss, but a loss to a key conservation and breeding program." He said Harambe's sperm had been preserved.

Reporters wanted to know if extra barriers will be put in place when Gorilla World reopens Saturday. Maynard said he doesn't know.

The USDA oversees zoos and is investigating.

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