Animal lovers continue to vent their outrage at Cincinnati Zoo officials over the senseless murder of an endangered gorilla on Saturday.
The incident unfolded Saturday morning when a precocious 4-year-old boy crawled under a railing, over some rocks and through some bushes before dropping 10-12 feet into the Gorilla World Exhibit.
The boy, who is safe at home, was at the zoo with his parents Michelle Gregg, 32, and Deonne Dickerson, 36, and his 3 siblings.
After the boy hit the water, two female gorillas moved away from him. But a 450-pound male named Harambe ambled over and stood over the boy protecting him, according to eyewitnesses.
As the crowd of onlookers screamed and yelled, the animal became agitated and dragged the surprisingly calm boy away from the chaotic scene.
Harambe dragged the boy out of the water and up onto rocks where he placed the boy between his massive arms in a protective stance.
Nothing in the video indicates the boy was in danger or harmed before the zoo’s dangerous animal response SWAT team gunned down the gorilla for no reason.
After viewing new video footage of the incident it’s easy to see why people are so outraged. Over 300,000 animal lovers joined the ‘Justice for Harambe’ Facebook page.
Rather than condemn zoo officials for their unnecessary and over-the-top response, the global media chose to focus on Mr. Dickerson’s decade-old criminal record.
Criminal filings against Dickerson stretch over a decade and include burglary, firearms offences, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap.
In 2006 he was sentenced to one year behind bars for a drug trafficking conviction.
But in numerous pictures posted on Dickerson’s Facebook site in recent years he appears to have turned his life around to become the proud father of four. Source
But the UK’s Daily Mail also points out that Dickerson, who is from Atlanta, turned his life around after studying at Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio and now works as a sorter at a Cincinnati industrial equipment supplier.
Facebook photos show Dickerson and Gregg as loving parents who dote on their 4 children.
Gregg also works currently as the administrator at a Cincinnati pre-school, where she is tasked with supervising other people’s children.
She had to stop Dickerson from climbing into the exhibit after his son, according to witnesses.
New evidence reveals Cincinnati Zoo officials shot Harambe in response to the incident in Santiago, Chile involving a mentally deranged man who stripped naked and served himself to hungry lions to be eaten in a bid to commit suicide 2 weeks ago.
Zoo officials there shot and killed 2 lions. The news made headlines all over the world.
Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard confirmed that the zoo’s response team “practiced drills” and held “table top discussions” after the Chile Zoo incident.
They probably couldn’t wait to gun down an innocent animal and make world headlines themselves.
What they didn’t expect was the outrage that would ensue after killing Harambe.
In the past, zoo officials used other non-violent measures to separate animals from things that fell into their enclosure.
Animal experts say the use of deadly force was completely unnecessary based on new video that shows the animal was protecting the boy.
Ian Redmond, the chairman of the Gorilla Organization, told CNN: “When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know and negotiate with them.”
Deidre Lykins, a visitor at the zoo that day, blamed the zoo and the inadequately secured enclosure. She wrote on Facebook: “This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation!
“This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!”
Another witness, Kim O’Connor, told WLWT News she heard the boy asking his mother about getting into the water before she heard a splash, followed by frantic yelling.
According to O’Connor, the gorilla looked like he was trying to protect the boy from panicked bystanders who may have aggravated the tense situation.
“I don’t know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group,” she said.
Cincinnati Zoo Director Maynard confirmed the boy was not under attack, but he still called it a “life threatening situation” even though the boy’s life was never threatened.
Maynard, who was not at the scene on Saturday, gave other feeble excuses such as the animal was “disoriented” and “agitated”.
“Looking back we would make the same decision,” he said during a press conference on Monday.
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made,” he added.
“We’re the ones who took the loss on this- you can trust me, a lot of people expressed concerns, but it doesn’t affect anyone as much as the people at the zoo.
“This is a very big loss to the zoo- not just an emotional loss, but a loss to a key conservation and breeding program.”
But the zoo director insisted the barriers were secure, saying: “Do you know any four-year-olds? They can climb over anything”
“This is an animal [that] with one hand, I have seen take a coconut and crush it,” he said.
But a child is not a coconut — and Harambe knew the difference. Too bad the humans at the zoo weren’t as smart as Harambe was on Saturday.