Gorilla killing sparks outrage but zoo 'stands by its decision'

OHIO-GORILLA/ Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by Cincinnati Zoo | REUTERS

Animal rights activists have been expressing a widespread outrage in the wake of killing of silverback gorilla at a US zoo to rescue a toddler who had fallen into its moat.

A petition has been started on Change.org for holding parents of 4-year-old boy accountable for the death of the gorilla, Harambe. The petition titled 'Justice for Harambe' has been signed by nearly 3 lakh people so far.

“This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy's parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision,” read the petition.

The petition also cited an witnesses who claimed that they heard child say his wish that he wanted to get into the enclosure and was actively trying to breach the barriers.

“This should have prompted the parents to immediately remove the child from the vicinity. It is believed that the situation was caused by parental negligence and the zoo is not responsible for the child's injuries and possible trauma,” the petition said, adding that the parents in question should be held responsible for the death of the 17-year-old Harambe.

The hashtag #JusticeForHarambe was also treading on Twitter and Facebook, with many condemning the unfortunate incident.

Cincinnati police, however, said they had no intention of charging the family because they don't believe a crime was committed, reported NBC News.

The authorities of Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden said that they were “heartbroken” by the loss of Harambe. But they would make the same decision again, if need be.

“We stand by our decision, and we would make the same call today,” Thane Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, said at a press conference Monday.

Zoo officials said sedating gorilla was not an option in view of the child's safety as it would have further agitated the 204 kg animal.

Fatally shooting the gorilla was the only way to rescue the child, according to zoo officials.

Meanwhile, the family of the child released a statement thanking the "quick decision" of the zoo authorities, while condoling their loss. The parents also said that the child was “doing just fine.”

The child on Saturday fell 15-feet into the gorilla exhibit. The harrowing moments of Harambe dragging the toddler around the moat was captured on camera by one of the zoo visitors.

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