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30th May 2016

People think this video shows gorilla Harambe trying to protect the boy who fell into zoo enclosure

The animal was shot and killed in order to rescue the child

Declan Cashin

As outrage continues to grow over the shooting dead of a gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo at the weekend, a new video of the incident has emerged which some claim proves the animal was trying to protect a young child who had fallen into its pen.

Harambe, a 17-year-old endangered West Lowland gorilla, was shot by animal control staff in the zoo after a four-year-old boy fell into his enclosure.

ViralHog has posted a 90-second video of the encounter, which a longer version of the first bits of footage that came out over the weekend.

In the video, Harambe can be seen dragging the child around the enclosure – but then putting its arm around the child and standing him upright in the water.

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There’s a lot of confusion over what the gorilla’s intentions were, but some people are claiming that the animal didn’t pose any real risk to the child.

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But others say that, regardless of how the gorilla may have behaved, the child could have drowned had extreme measures not been taken.

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Dr Sharon Redrobe, from Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire, told Metro:

“In the footage I have seen the animal was clearly becoming more agitated and zoo officials need to make quick assessments. Tranquillising the gorilla with a dart just simply wouldn’t have worked in this situation.

“It would have taken up to 10 minutes to take affect and the animal may have become violent which would have had catastrophic consequences.”

Meanwhile, the child’s mother Michelle Gregg can be heard in the video calling out “Mommy loves you” and “stay calm” from up above. Earlier today, Gregg responded to critics, saying “accidents happen” in a Facebook post. She wrote:

“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one.

“For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him.

“My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries.

“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”

An online petition has been set up to press for “the parents to be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.” At the time of writing, 173,000 people had signed it.

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Later on Monday evening, the director of the Cincinnati Zoo defended the decision to shoot the gorilla. Thayne Maynard told reporters at a press conference: “Looking back, we would make the same decision. The gorilla was clearly agitated. The gorilla was clearly disoriented.”

The director added that the boy’s head was smacking off the concrete as he was dragged through the enclosure, which was one factor in the decision to shoot Harambe.