You’ve already heard the story because everybody has: Four-year-old kid falls into gorilla enclosure at zoo; Harambe, the 17 year-old animal, drags kid through the moat (where kid landed after the tumble); Zoo officials shoot and kill the gorilla.

Everybody’s talking: Some say the boy’s parents were negligent; others point their finger at the conditions at the zoo saying it’s their fault for not having a secure enclosure; last, but certainly not least, are the protesters claiming the officials who called the shots that day should not have killed the 400-pound endangered primate.

It is unfortunate, but the zookeepers didn’t have a choice and while their actions are unpopular they did the right thing. Was Harambe trying to shield and protect the boy when he dragged him through the moat? Who thinks the officials had time enough to figure that out?

What if the animal had killed the kid? The zoo officials would be blamed for failing to protect the child.

Nothing to be said here against the argument that the gorilla enclosure was not secure. It wasn’t, since a 4-year-old was able to penetrate the safety parameter.

The parents?

Come on now.

A family outing is a good thing but there is no excuse for parents not explaining the boundaries and the behaviors required specific to the occasion.

Don’t we teach the younguns not to talk in the movie theater? Most kids understand, even when they’re four years old, that they don’t get to eat popcorn while sitting in the church pew.

The zoo?

We visit the animals but they are dangerous. They are from the wild. They can hurt people. That is why we don’t touch them. We must stay together at all times. We hold hands.

The zoo for a four-year-old isn’t much different than crossing the traffic-filled street. Do we allow our children to run ahead of us just because the “walk” signal is flashing?

I sure hope not.

The parent, who understands their responsibility, has already talked about red light, green light and the possibility, when not following the rules, of being hit by a car.

This  Zoo-Mom did not have her eyes or her hands where they should have been.

She was a negligent parent no matter that the enclosure wasn’t secure and she should have been charged with child endangerment.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Jean Troy

    As a parent We have all been negligent when it comes to handling and controling our little ones. Most of us have been blessed by fate that nothing bad has happened. I agree that the rules need to be in place and hand holding is a must, When I came home from any outing I was usually exhausted since my eyes and ears were constantly watching and looking for my charges, I want them to have a good time but I also need for them to be safe. Boys are usually more adventuresome than girls having raised two boys. I usually never went on any outing to the zoo with out Dad and maybe even Grandma along to help keep the little “darlings” in check. My peditrition once told me you should only apply physical punishment when you wanted the child to be afraid, such as running into the street, running away from you and not saying close in a dangerous area such as the Zoo. I feel He was right.

  2. Bill

    Hi Shirlee,

    This was a horrible tragedy and could have been exceedingly much, much worse. I agree with you—–the parents were negligent and the zoo grounds-keeper of construction/security were negligent as well. All parties involved had a greater responsibility that should have been adhered to, regarding the safety / enclosure-construction violation; and the parent(s) being more “hands on” with their child. Now, how do we go about putting some of the zoo authorities and the parents/mother in “an enclosure with bars” for a little while? Perhaps, in a confined area, the necessary parties can think a little more “deeply” about the meaning of responsibility. As usual, you were “right on the money,” Shirlee.
    —–Bill Allen, Jr.

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