Gorillas in the midst: the incident at the Cincinnati Zoo

i have taken a few days to consider the tragedy that occurred at the Cincinnati zoo, and tragedy is really the only word for it. While everyone is casting blame, it was a combination of several factors that led to the outcome.

A parent overburdened, a child misbehaving, a crowd panicking, a zoo unprepared both before and after the incident, a sentient, yet make no mistake, wild gorilla. All these factors led up to the event that cost this glorious beast it’s life.

First is an enclosure that a child can breach, while a zoo wants an unobstructed view, the fact that someone, especially a young child, can slip inside is unbearably sloppy security, for both people and the animals. 

Second is a parent, so overburdened with children, she cannot keep track of them all all the time. As a parent, and grandparent I can understand how easy it is to lose track of a child. In an instant they are out of sight and the panic is instantaneous 

Which leads us to panic.

While the child was in the water, the gorilla seemed calm until a crowd of onlookers began shouting and screaming in panic. They were not in danger, they were not in a position to help, yet each reacted as if the very hounds of hell were hanging off their buttocks in shrieks and wails that would have agrivated anyone. A gorilla that at first seemed calmly curious was suddenly assailed with a blast of notice that signified threat or danger. His reaction was to be expected. This is not some trained monkey in a circus, it’s a wild gorrila with a general acceptance of human interaction. I can assure you the handlers are certainly not this loud. 

He sought to escape, taking the child as an afterthought, as protector or as hostage or a convinient weapon, we don’t know. We can speculate but at the risk of a child’s life? I think not.

The zoo’s reaction was equally panicked and rushed. The quickest solution to the issue was presented first. Could they have franked the gorilla? Maybe. Could they have lured him away from the child? Perhaps, but again, at what risk?

In short a gorilla is dead, a child is safe and a zoo has learned a lesson. But at a cost that seems too high in hindsight. But tragedy is always that way. After the fact, we see the errors that led up to the event. That doesn’t mean we could have forsaw its arrival.


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