Gorilla ‘Trying To Protect’ 4-Year-old Boy Who Fell Into Zoo Exhibit Shot Dead, Witnesses Say

In a story that is taking the Internet by storm, a 400-pound gorilla named Harambe was shot dead by Cincinnati Zoo officials just one day after his 17th birthday sparking an international outcry of emotion as mourners called it a ‘senseless death’ and a ‘murder of an endangered species’.

Harambe was shot after he grabbed a four-year-old boy who fell into its gorilla exhibit moat, the Cincinnati Zoo’s director said. However, witnesses who were at the zoo say that “the gorilla was trying to protect the boy.”

Video Frame / Youtube

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little boy in the bushes past the little fence area. I tried to grab for him. I started yelling at him to come back,” Brittany Nicely told reporters. She added that the gorilla seemed protective, and was only alarmed by the screams of those watching.

Video Frame / Youtube

Many are placing the blame squarely on the parents of a four-year-old boy, who investigators believe crawled through a railing barrier and fell into the gorilla exhibit’s moat before he was approached by Harambe in the water and stood with him for about 10 minutes.

According to one witness, Kim O’Connor, the small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which the mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not.’ O’Connor added that the gorilla rushed towards the boy and led him by the arm through the water of the enclosure to a safe place.

Cincinnati Zoo

Zoo officials defended their decision to shoot Harambe rather than tranquilize him, but thousands took to social media to call it a ‘murder’.

Witness Bob Tillis writes on Facebook: “This ‘animal’ attempted to do something that the mother obviously did not – protect the child.”

Watch the video of the incident and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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