UPDATED: Tuesday, May 31, 11:53 AM EST:
The mother of a child who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo has become the target of online jeering and racially tinged attacks after zookeepers shot the animal dead in a desperate bid to save her son, reports BBC:
She tells her son to remain calm, after he had climbed through a barrier and fallen into the pen at Cincinnati Zoo.
A Facebook post, purportedly written by Michelle Gregg, thanked “the right people” for being “in the right place” and said “accidents happen”.
Gregg later became the focus of a furious online backlash after zoo officials defended the decision to shoot the animal.
The New York Post reports that “activists created 15 petitions on Change.org, where more than 185,000 people signed one blaming the 17-year-old silverback’s death on a lack of “parental supervision” and calling for ‘an investigation of the child’s home environment.'”
Here are some tweets:
An endangered gorilla was shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old toddler fell into his enclosure, NBC reports.
A mother’s cries can be heard in the video screaming, “Please protect him God! Please protect him!”
Reports say the toddler’s mother was watching many other children when her son slipped away into the watery moat.
Cincinnati Fire Department Chief Marc Monahan wrote in a statement the gorilla was “violently dragging and throwing the child.”
Seeing imminent danger, the Cincinnati Zoo employee shot the gorilla with a long rifle. Cincinnati Zoo staff opted not to use tranquilizers, explaining the drugs would’ve taken too long to go into effect.
The silverback gorilla, named Harambe, recently celebrated his 17th birthday. He weighed about 400 pounds.
Cincinnati Zoo Director, Thayne Maynard, said in a statement, “The zoo’s in the business of taking care of endangered animals, and we don’t want to be in the situation in which they have to be killed. But all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that.”
He also defended the move saying, “the right choice was made.”
Although Maynard claims the move saved the boy’s life, critics and social media alike are questioning the decision.
Memes and tweets lit up the Internet, defending Harambe’s right to live. Some used hashtag #JusticeForHarambe to show their support:
Other mourners launched a petition, calling for the boy’s parents to be charged with negligence, which ultimately led to Harambe’s death:
Do you think the right decision was made?
SOURCE: NBC News | VIDEO SOURCE: Inform
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