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Killing of Gorilla at US Zoo Causes Uproar

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A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the shuttered Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, May 30, 2016, in Cincinnati. A gorilla named Harambe was killed by a special zoo response team on Saturday after a 4-year-old boy slipped into an exhibit and it was concluded his life was in danger. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A boy brings flowers to put beside a statue of a gorilla outside the shuttered Gorilla World exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, May 30, 2016, in Cincinnati. A gorilla named Harambe was killed by a special zoo response team on Saturday after a 4-year-old boy slipped into an exhibit and it was concluded his life was in danger. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Critics were outraged after zoo officials shot and killed a gorilla that held a 4-year-old boy at an American zoo this weekend.

Harambe, a male western lowland gorilla, was shot and killed Saturday by Cincinnati Zoo officials. The boy had fallen into the gorilla’s exhibit. Officials feared the animal would hurt the four-year-old.

The boy climbed over a 3-foot-tall railing, walked through bushes and fell 15 feet into the moat of the gorilla exhibit.

Zookeepers called to the gorillas to come out of the exhibit. Two female gorillas complied, but Harambe did not. Instead, he was attracted to the child. At times, he seemed protective. At others, he dragged the boy through the water of the moat violently.

Zoo officials say Harambe was visibly agitated by the screams and panic of the crowd around the exhibit.

They decided to shoot the gorilla.

Zoo Director Thane Maynard said there was no doubt that the boy's life was in danger. He said the gorilla could crush a coconut in one hand.​

Tranquilizing Harambe was not an option, Maynard said.

“The impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” Maynard said. If they had to make the same decision over again, they would do the same thing, he said.

Critics are furious about the killing of Harambe. Many on social media are blaming Michelle Gregg, the mother of the boy. They say she did not watch her son closely enough where there were many dangerous animals.

An online petition has been created, called Justice for Harambe, that says “the situation was caused by parental negligence” and that Gregg should be held accountable. The petition already has more than 350,000 signatures.

Change.org petition - 'Justice for Harambe'

Change.org petition - 'Justice for Harambe'

People have been active on Twitter and Facebook, too. The hashtags #RIPHarambe and #JusticeForHarambe express their anger.

Others have defended Gregg and the zoo.

Jack Hanna, host of “Jack Hanna's Into the Wild,'' said the zoo was correct by shooting the gorilla. Hanna said he saw video of the gorilla jerking the boy through the water.

“I'll bet my life on this, that child would not be here today,'' Hanna told television station WBNS in Columbus, Ohio.

I’m Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth.

Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth wrote this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

Did you see the video and hear of the gorilla story? Which side did you take? Please leave us a comment below this story, and post to our Facebook page, thank you.

Words in This Story

moat n. a deep, wide ditch that is usually filled with water and that goes around the walls of a place (such as a castle) to protect it from being attacked​

exhibit – n. an object or a collection of objects that have been put out in a public space for people to look at : something shown in an exhibition​

agitatedv. to disturb, excite, or anger (someone)​

tranquilizing v. to use a drug to cause (a person or animal) to become very relaxed and calm​

furiousadj. very angry​

negligence n. failure to take the care that a responsible person usually takes: lack of normal care or attention

jerkingv. to push, pull, or twist (something) with a quick movement

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