Harambe the gorilla is the new Cecil the lion.
Except that Cecil wasn’t doing anything when two men lured him out of a protected-wildlife park in Zimbabwe last year so that he could be shot by a vacationing dentist from Minnesota who had bought a valid trophy-hunting permit and had no idea that Cecil had been illegally procured. Zimbawe authorities never prosecuted the dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer, although they brought criminal charges against the two professional hunting guides.
Meanwhile, animal-rights activists threw his dental practice into shambles and otherwise tried to wreck his life.
Harambe, on the other hand, according to the Chicago Tribune
Video footage shot by horrified visitors shows Harambe straddling the boy in the far left corner of the enclosure. At first, he appears to be standing guard, like he is protecting the boy, but he becomes agitated by visitors' chaotic response to the fall and suddenly snatches the boy's leg, violently dragging him through the foot of water that covers the floor of the enclosure. The dragging pauses momentarily, and the boy seems to try and scoot away from the gorilla, but as quickly as he did before, Harambe latches onto the child's foot again and drags him to the opposite end of the enclosure.
Minutes later, visitors heard the crack of a gunshot.
Yes, Cincinnati Zoo first responders shot and killed Harambe on May 28 after he grabbed a 3-year-old boy who had climbed over a yard-high barrier and then tumbled nearly 20 feet into an enclosure housing nine western lowland gorillas like Harambe.
Here is what a witness to the incident wrote on Facebook:
"I was taking a pic of the female gorilla, when my eldest son yells, "what is he doing? " I looked down, and to my surprise, there was a small child that had apparently, literally "flopped" over the railing, where there was then about 3 feet of ground that the child quickly crawled through! ! I assumed the woman next to me was the mother, getting ready to grab him until she says, "Whose kid is this? " None of us actually thought he'd go over the nearly 15 foot drop, but he was crawling so fast through the bushes before myself or husband could grab him, he went over! The crowed got a little frantic and the mother was calling for her son. Actually, just prior to him going over, but she couldn't see him crawling through the bushes! She said "He was right here! I took a pic and his hand was in my back pocket and then gone!" As she could find him nowhere, she looks to my husband (already over the railing talking to the child) and asks, "Sir, is he wearing green shorts? " My husband reluctantly had to tell her yes, when she then nearly had a break down! They are both wanting to go over into the 15 foot drop, when I forbade my husband to do so, and attempted to calm the mother by calling 911 and assure her help was on the way."
Here is another witness’s account, according to CNN
Kimberley Ann Perkins O'Connor, who captured some of the incident on her phone, told CNN she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water.
Suddenly, a splash drew the crowd's attention to the boy in the water. The crowd started screaming, drawing Harambe's attention to the boy, O'Connor said.
At first, it looked like Harambe was trying to help the boy, O'Connor said. He stood him up and pulled up his pants.
As the crowd's clamors grew, Harambe tossed the boy into a corner of the moat, O'Connor said, which is when she started filming. Harambe went over to the corner and shielded the boy with his body as the boy's mother yelled "Mommy's right here."
The crowd's cries appeared to agitate Harambe anew, O'Connor said, and the video shows him grabbing the boy by the foot. He dragged him through the water and out of the moat atop the habitat, O'Connor said.
By that point, "It was not a good scene," she said. When the boy tried to back away the gorilla "aggressively" pulled him back into his body "and really wasn't going to let him get away," she said.
But the animal-rights activists are at it again. Just as it was “Justice for Cecil” last year, it’s “Justice for Harambe” right now. Ian Redmond, chairman of the Gorilla organization said
“When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favourite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know.
Negotiate? Harambe weighed 400 pounds. The average 3-year-old boy weighs 31 pounds. According to CNN:
The response team includes full-time keepers, veterinarians, maintenance workers, zoo leadership and security staff. All members are trained and certified annually by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tweeted that it was “captivity” that killed Harambe, and others called for a boycott of the zoo. Another group, Stop Exploitation of Animals, filed a complaint against the zoo with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But the boy’s parents seem to be the real animal-activist targets. “You all killed him for protecting a child [whose] parents couldn't contain their own children!!”
“Keep brats out of the habitats,” read a sign at a demonstration outside the zoo on May 30.
About 8,000 people have signed a petition calling for prosecuting the boy’s mother, and sure enough, the Cincinnati police, who at first said no criminal charges would be filed, are now launching a criminal investigation.
What fascinates me is that a large segment of the U.S. population obviously believes that the life of a non-human primate is more valuable than the life of a small human child. Really?