Memorial Day is a day for remembering soldiers that never made it home from the horrors of war. As my husband and I were prepping to record our radio show for Monday, we were ready to include Harambe as one of our talking points but decided against it. It seemed, at the time, a blip on the radar and the media blowing something out of proportion.
Since then public outrage has become staggering. Our social media feed was overflowing with memes about Harambe's death and people's personal opinions. Going from how the gorilla died in vain, to how it didn't need to be done to save the life of the child.
The social media outrage took precedence over Memorial Day. Instead of remembering and paying homage to our fallen soldiers; people were quarreling over the death of Harambe, the silverback gorilla. "Yet again, captivity has taken an animal's life," Primatologist and Senior Corporate Liaison for PETA Julia Gallucci said in a statement. "The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident."
Yes, it is a tragedy. Yes, the enclosure could have been better. And perhaps the parents could have kept a better eye on their child. It is very easy to play Monday morning quarterback about a 4-year-old who fell into a gorilla enclosure with Harambe; a powerful 400+ pound male gorilla, with the strength of 15 grown men. This giant animal did not see this little boy as a threat but as a new toy. Watching the video of the helpless child being dragged around like a rag doll is heart-wrenching.
Now people argue, "Why not use a tranquilizer gun, rather than kill?" Jack Hannah, host of Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures and former director of Columbus Zoo with decades of experience, told Fox News, "A dart (tranquilizer) can take 5-10 mins, and anger the Gorilla."
The Cincinnati Zoo is standing behind the decision to put Harambe down, and their protocol in dealing with situations like this in the future. Activists have turned their attention to the parents. If they had kept an eye on their toddler, this would have never happened. They want charges brought against the parents of the child. Social justice warriors want their pound of flesh.
As a mother of six girls, a lot can happen in the blink of an eye. My husband and I are very attentive parents. On one occasion, we took a trip to a major children's museum. My husband and I had taken our eyes off of our then 8-year-old daughter for an instant, and she was gone. The Museum personnel comforted us and told us that it happens all the time. Should the Museum be then reporting us to the authorities?
The conversation people should be having is, which is more important, the life of a child or an animal? In the wild, would the gorilla think twice about attacking a person threatening the life of their young? We have become divided and are putting an animal's life over that of our own.
Change.org is circulating a petition with almost 200,000 signatures urging Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, and Hamilton County Child Protection Services to take action. That's the right way to go about this, but it seems more like they want their pound of flesh than what is right.
Besides being from Africa, Harambe has a lot in common with Cecil, the lion. The public outrage over the dentist who killed Cecil and how he was beloved by all, that was far from the truth. Goodwell Nzou wrote in The New York Times, "In my village in Zimbabwe, surrounded by wildlife conservation areas, no lion has ever been beloved, or granted an affectionate nickname. They are objects of terror."
The Hwange National Park is the organization which runs these "Trophy Hunting" excursions in coordination with the government of Zimbabwe. The park then uses the money to help fund the protection of all the animals, and humans, in and around the preserves. These lions have no natural predators, and their numbers need to be maintained so that they don't kill off the wildlife.
In both instances, people have made a knee jerk reaction and are mad at the humans. The ones taking a stand for these animals, including PETA, are forgetting the reasons for these zoos. The personnel at the zoos have years of training on how best to deal with such situations. Zoos bring awareness to the plight of animals around the world. They have brought animals back from the brink of extinction through breeding programs. A great example is the panda breeding program.
It comes down to, why? Why are people freaking out over this? The story should've only been just a blip on our radar. What could have turned into a tragic situation is not. If they had waited it out and the gorilla had killed the child, people would be crying out about how the zoo did nothing.