Social media has been up in an uproar after a gorilla named Harambe was shot dead in order to rescue a four year old boy. During the weekend, a small boy of four years of age visiting the zoo of Cincinnati slipped through a barrier and fell into a pit where gorillas in captivity reside in. Everyone present immediately panicked. Zoo officials managed to get two female gorillas to get away from the boy after they issued commands; however, a 17 year old male gorilla named Harambe ignored commands and approached the four year old boy.
Hirambe towered over the boy at one point and then proceeded to drag the boy through the water to another location a few feet away. From there, Hirambe seemed to observe the crying child and even stood him up at one point holding him by his pants. Shortly after this, zoo officials shot Hirambe killing him and then rescued the young boy. The boy was sent to the hospital with scrapes and a concusion. He was released a few days later. However, animals activists and others are calling for the parents of the child to be arrested. Some have even resorted to death threats against the mother and four year old child. Others have even resorted to racists remarks because the boy is African American; insinuating that the boy was the same color as the gorilla and therefore, the gorilla would not have harmed him.
Over 100,000 have signed an online petition demanding an investigation and the prosecution of the parents of the young boy. The zoo is also under fire for killing the silverback gorilla which is an endangered species. Those upset with the killing are upset because they feel that the killing of the gorilla was unnecessary. They ask why a tranquilizer was not used. Zoo officials responded that a tranquilizer would take about ten minutes to kick in and the dart would have angered Hirambe causing him to possibily harm or kill the boy. Gorillas are very strong animals. They can easily deadlift about 2,000 lbs without effort. A gorilla can easily tear a grown man over 6 feet tall piece by piece or easily crush him. Had Hirambe been tranquilized, he could have torn the boy apart or with one pound of his hand would have left the boy crushed into a pulp. Experts all agree that killing the gorilla was the only option.
This story is sad, not only for the boy and his family but also for Harambe. Harambe did not ask to be held in a zoo. He did not ask to be ‘entertainment’ for human beings who are ‘cousins’ of his species. Gorillas and humans share 98% DNA. It is extraordinary to even contemplate this. We are so different yet so similar, genetically and physically speaking. However, human life has more value than a gorilla because they are rational beings with souls. This does not mean gorillas do not have value. We must ensure that these creatures survive on Earth. Again, they are our ‘cousins’ in nature.
What troubles me is the response from some animal activists who seem to have preferred that the boy perish instead of the gorilla. This is sad indeed and shows the warped views circulating around in society. These views mainly come from philosopher Peter Singer who advocates for ‘animal equality.’ He believes that humans and non-human animals are the same. These ideas are presented as rational but when one analyzes them carefully, they can be nonsensical. Yes, humans are animals too, but humans are different. Humans have the capacity to save other species, gorillas do not. This puts the human in a higher category than other non-human animals.
I am sad that Harambe is dead. In fact, from the video I saw, it seems as if Harambe was actually protecting the boy. Nevertheless, Harambe was a savage animal. This is evidence in how he dragged the boy causing the boy to bash his head several times on concrete. Harambe could not distinguish between being gentle or rough. He did not have that capacity. If gorillas had this capacity, they could easily organize and attack human beings like in the “Planet of the Apes” movie. I think an investigation should be made at the zoo to figure out why the gorilla’s sanctuary was not secure. As to whether the parents had blame, only cameras at the zoo (if any) can prove this. Accidents do happen. Kids to wander off even with the most vigilant of parents. Instead of a criminal charge, I think a fine is more appropriate to help cover the costs related to Harambe’s death.