Prosecutor: No Charges For Family In Zoo Gorilla Incident

Jun 6, 2016

Prosecutor Joe Deters points at the wall around the gorilla exhibit's moat and says it's a wonder the boy wasn't more hurt.
Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU

The mother of the toddler who climbed through a barrier and fell into the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla enclosure will not face charges. That's the decision from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters. The zoo fatally shot a gorilla while rescuing the child.

"This happened so quickly, according to the witnesses, that there's nothing that the mother could have done," says Deters. "If anyone doesn't believe a 3-year-old can't scamper off very quickly, they've never had kids because they can and they do."

Deters says the investigation showed no proof of any child endangerment and did not meet the statute requirements for such.

"It's not even a close call," he says.

Investigators and child protective services visited the family's home over the weekend. Deters says investigators were very impressed with the home and the environment. He adds that the child is still doing fine.

Cincinnati police announced Thursday the investigation into the family of the boy who got into the exhibit was complete. Deters then began reviewing the information

On Saturday, May 28, a 3-year-old boy climbed through existing barriers and fell into the Gorilla World exhibit. Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla, was shot and killed during the rescue process. Click here and here to read more about the incident.

Though it said the existing barrier passed multiple inspections, the zoo last week installed a new fence  around the enclosure. Gorilla World is slated to reopen Tuesday. It's been closed since the incident.

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.