Animal experts disagree on whether zookeepers were right to shoot a gorilla after a 3-year-old boy got into its enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Video recorded by witnesses shows Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla, toying with the boy and dragging him through the water for nearly ten minutes.
Zookeepers eventually shot the 450-pound lowland gorilla with a long rifle rather than tranquilize him or attempt to lure him away from the child.
“Tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes, and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse,” Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said in a statement Sunday.
“We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”
The boy was taken to a hospital and released.
Some animal experts say the zoo was too quick to shoot the ape and should have attempted other ways to save the boy first.
“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,” Ian Redmond, the chairman of The Gorilla Organization, told CNN.
“I don’t know if that was tried or people thought there was too much danger but it does seem very unfortunate that a lethal shot was required.”
Animal expert Jeff Corwin agreed with the zookeepers’ decision, saying, “It can take, in some situations, depending on what the medication is, it can take upward to 10 to 15 minutes. It may take multiple shots.”
Featured image via screengrab