As Internet commenters debate whether the Cincinnati Zoo made the right call when it shot and killed a 400-pound gorilla over the weekend, an unedited video was published online that gives a fuller picture of what happened in those fateful moments. When local NBC affiliate WLWT published the first video that showed a four-year-old in the zoo’s gorilla enclosure, it seemed the animal wasn’t really doing anything threatening. But WLWT said it had “removed the most graphic portions of the video.” When the full video was published online on Monday it raised even more questions.
At certain points in the video, it looks like the gorilla is caring for the child, helping him stand up and touching his hand. Yet at other points, the gorilla can be seen dragging the boy violently through the water as witnesses can be heard screaming.
The actions don’t necessarily mean Harambe wanted to harm the child. “You have to remember a comparable aged baby gorilla is much stronger, much more robust physical being and is able to deal with a lot of rough and tumble in comparison to a young human child,” an expert told the BBC. Others said the screaming from the onlookers may have freaked out the 17-year-old gorilla.
The Cincinnati Zoo stood by its decision to kill Harambe. "It was a life-threatening situation and the silverback gorilla is a very dangerous animal," said zoo director Thane Maynard at a news conference on Monday. “We stand by our decision and we'd make the same call today.”
The boy was released from the hospital shortly after the incident and his family said in a statement that he was doing well. "We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla," the family said.