The director of the Cincinnati Zoo on Monday stood by the decision to shoot dead a gorilla as he dragged a 4-year-old boy around by the ankle, saying the ape was not simply endangering the child who fell into his enclosure but actually hurting him.
“Looking back, we would make the same decision” to shoot the gorilla, Thayne Maynard, director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, told a news conference.
“The gorilla was clearly agitated. The gorilla was clearly disoriented,” Maynard said.
The boy’s head was banging on the concrete as he was being dragged through the enclosure, which was one factor in the decision to shoot Harambe, the Western lowland gorilla, whose species is listed as endangered.
Animal lovers mobilized on Monday as outrage mounted over the killing.
More than 200,000 people had signed online petitions on Change.org to protest the shooting. Some petitions urged police to hold the child’s parents accountable.
(Reporting by Ginny McCabe; Editing by Daniel Trotta and David Gregorio)