NEWSFLASH – Harambe the gorilla was not “murdered”


Introducing XYZ’s latest contributor, ElvenPegasister.

From the outset, I would like to extend sympathy to the staff of Cincinnati Zoo, both for the loss of the gorilla they were forced to shoot, and for having to deal with people who don’t know the value of a human child’s life.

The boy was being dragged by his leg through water, and from what I saw in the video, there was serious danger of his drowning. I’m sure that wasn’t the only danger, but it was the most obvious to me. The zoo officials were forced to prioritise the child over the gorilla.

They knew full well the endangered nature of the species, plus how well-loved Harambe was by zookeeper Jerry Stones and others. They knew the zoo would lose by the action, lose a valuable exhibit as well as get bad publicity. They didn’t make the decision lightly. But even zookeeper Stones who knew and loved Harambe so much backed the decision to save the child.

For all the claims from onlookers that they didn’t believe the gorilla was trying to hurt the boy, how can anyone actually know the gorilla’s purpose in dragging the boy through the water? I think the onlookers are assuming too many human feelings in a creature that is not a human. And even if their expectations are correct, gorillas are much stronger than humans, and personally, I’m not convinced Harambe wouldn’t have killed or severely injured the boy by accident – by simply not knowing what a 4-year-old human child can handle. The zoo officials could not predict Harambe’s actions, and if they can’t, I don’t know who could.

I would also like to point out the futility of the social media movements such as the #JusticeForHarambe hashtag trend. He’s dead, and he can’t be brought back to life. The zoo is already doing what it can to prevent such a thing happening again (it’s like a plane crash – such a thankfully-rare occurrence now that it must be followed with an investigation), but nothing is going to bring Harambe back. Get over it and move on.

Harambe was not murdered.

Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of one human by another, and a gorilla is not a human. If the zoo staff had left Harambe be and the boy had died, that would have been murder, or criminal negligence. Saving a child at the cost of a gorilla is not.

I would also like to ask people to lay off the suggestions that something is wrong in the boy’s family because the mother couldn’t prevent her son climbing into the enclosure. She had other children to look after as well; a witness reports that she was telling her son he was not to climb in; and as someone who works with preschool children, I know how often they will, very suddenly, decide to do things an adult would never dream of! 4-year-olds make decisions very quickly, and don’t always know the dangers. (Would you expect them to?) The responsible adults can’t always react in time. Not to mention that the mother would hardly have expected him to be able to get past the barrier into the enclosure, which, as zoo official commented, has been effective for decades. So it comes down to an old philosophical question: animal life or human life?

ElvenPegasister has no university degrees, but does know how children behave. She is studying philosophy under CS Lewis and Augustine of Hippo, and hopes one day to study theology too.