On the Death of Harambe

Harambe was a 17 year old Western Lowland Gorilla kept at the Cincinnati Zoo. OK, he was a prisoner at the zoo. I don’t care how nice the enclosure, I doubt, if given the choice to remain there or be free, he’d choose to stay.

photo from cincinnati.com

So a 4 year old kid decides he wants to play in the gorilla area and tells his mother what he’s going to do,then looks for a way to get in. He falls 10 feet, landing in a moat, then comes face to face with Harambe. At first Harambe seemed calm, but the people who saw the event began screaming and yelling, because humans do stupid stuff like that, and in the process they agitated Harambe. The gorilla then grabbed the child and drug him away. Zoo staff called the gorillas out of the enclosure; all responded but Harambe. The decision was made to shoot the gorilla to save the child’s life because a bullet is immediate and tranquilizers don’t work immediately, especially with an excited gorilla. The child was treated at a local hospital and released. His parents, based on the statement they released, are still clueless twits.

Now animal rights activists are calling for the kid’s parents to be held accountable for the gorilla’s death.

But who is responsible for this tragedy?

We are. Yes, you are. And me. We all are.

We are a species who sees ourselves as superior to all other species. Truly, the zoo has no other choice than to act on behalf of a human over a gorilla.

We want to go to zoos and see animals on display. Really? How is that even a thing? We want to get up close to them. We want to touch them. Hold them. Pet them. Because we think as a superior species we deserve that. Our richer folk donate money to places like this because it makes them feel good to help the animals, only they aren’t helping animals at all. They’re helping feed our delusions about animals.

We pay to pet baby tigers without once thinking of what the experience means for the baby tiger (removed from mom, constant stress, then the rest of its life spent in a small cage…. if there is an adulthood).

We flock to Sea World and the circus because it’s cool to see animals perform for us. Doesn’t matter those animals are beaten or harmed in a myriad of ways to get them to act the way we think they should.

And because we have “rights,” we allow people to keep animals in cages or on chains because we own them and can do that to our property if we want to. Animals don’t have rights.

That kid did what 4-year-old kids do. His parents should have kept a closer eye on him, to be sure. And the zoo should have had a more impenetrable enclosure.

Or maybe we should stop seeing animals as lesser creatures who can be treated any damn way we please. After all, the only way animals will survive is if we change the way we see and think about them.

I don’t care how cute the logo, it’s still just a prison for animals. 




32 thoughts on “On the Death of Harambe

  1. I agree with you… it is our fault… it starts with prisons for animals, called zoo&circus and it ends with such parents… and Harambe had to pay the price… :o(((

      1. It doesn’t matter if they were little green Martians! The brat was their responsinility! He even told them he wanted to play in enclosure… So they LET him and the animal paid the price. As the animals always do because of human stupidity! Zoos serve NO purpose in today’s world except possible breeding opportunities for rare or endangered species…..which ARE rare or endangered because we have destroyed their habitat….. There it is again…the human stupidity factor!!!

      2. I don’t disagree with you. I’m just looking at the bigger picture. It’s the way we look at animals that set this whole plan in motion. This child at age 4 already thinks animals are playthings. He didn’t come up with that idea out of nowhere. He learned that from the rest of us. His parents. TV. Society in general.

  2. Sad story 😔 it is the parents responsibility to look after the child! For the zoo to cater for all sorts of morons is a near impossible task. Sad sad…

    1. It is the parents’ responsibility, and yet kids this age get into trouble all the time. How is it possible a child was able to access such an unsafe area?

      1. Beats me completely… I have a a son – he is 23 now, however I would have never allowed him to go off by himself – believe me… how it is possible ? good question – one would have to interview the parents… is like people in cars causing accidents and not knowing that they did… due to obstructions.

  3. Exactly so, Jen! Exactly! On a college project for ..the zoo, many years ago, after seeing this chimp trying to hide behind a blanket in order to eat away from the prying human eyes, I decided to design an anti-zoo poster [1989] [https://marinakanavaki.com/2011/11/30/the-zoo/] A prison is a prison and as far as I know they didn’t commit any kind of crime to deserve this punishment.

  4. Zoo’s do help to keep animals from becoming extinct out in the wild those gorillas would probably have been killed by now

    But the line I’m glad you wrote is about the child telling his mother he was going into the gorilla cage

    I read that once yesterday and then not again

    As the child argued with his mother

    I’m going into the gorilla cage
    Mom said no your not

    Yes I am…No your not

    The mother then turned her back on the child

    …and you know the rest of the story

    1. Is it really preferable to live in captivity if there is no chance your species will survive? I think that’s us justifying our behaviors that lead to the species’ demise.

  5. Well said! Perhaps in the distant future, humans will actually share the world with all creatures, respecting their right to life, to live in freedom, free from fear, torture and imprisonment. Until then, our hearts are heavy, seeing, hearing and KNOWING of the abuse inflicted by our fellow human’s hands. Thank you.

  6. Sadly, it is just another example of human stupidity which is concluded by killing a defenseless animal. So many dogs have been killed because they bit a child, and yet the circumstances would usually suggest the cause was a combination of human stupidity, and a dog simply doing what a dog does to protect itself.

    In my early days with Ray, and knowing how fearful he was of people, I was appalled at how many times I heard a child’s voice saying “Big doggy! Big doggy!” and saw a 4-5 year old rushing towards Ray with arms outstretched. If a child had ever managed to wrap their arms around him, I have no doubt that he would have bitten. What with blocking children, and trying to talk some sense to the watching parents, I realized that owning a dog was going to be challenging in so many ways!

    1. Yes it’s always the animal’s fault because we replaced nature’s “survival of the fittest” with survival of all humans regardless of cost.

  7. I presently view zoos as a necessary evil for species preservation due to human predation. I acknowledge that without them no one would give a rat’s ass whether gorillas or other popularized species in need of preservation lived or died. Without zoos and awareness, there might well be no primates at all in Africa because – bush meat and income for gorilla paws. I rarely go to zoos because the ones I remember from childhood still give me chills when I remember them.

    I prefer endangered animals be sent to sanctuaries where they can be preserved with humans (if allowed at all) stuck into glassed in boxcars and pulled through in places where they might see the wildlife. We are, after all, slightly brainier baboons and not to be trusted (for the most part). That said, there is a zoo and people do go there and the people running the zoos today do the best job they can to provide a livable habitat for our cousins (even snakes are our distant cousins, let us not forget that) while having to endure the behavior of we brainier baboons.

    When I heard about the situation I thought a few things: Little kids are amazingly ignorant of what their ungoverned impulses can do to them. Parents are amazingly ignorant of how much attention has to be paid in order to keep the progeny alive and functional until adulthood. If someone says, “I’m going to do this…” don’t be a dope – listen to them, because unless it is a “ha-ha” joke they are going to make their best attempt to do it. So now this kid will grow up knowing: when I was a wild-eyed four-year-old I was responsible for the death of a member of an endangered species.

    The parents were negligent. If you cannot control your kids don’t take them. This is a lesson we seem to have forgotten about leaving the wild ones at home. My daughter didn’t go to a place she could not control herself at. Her kids didn’t either. Situations of overstimulation have kids bouncing off walls. If one has too many kids then take fewer and make more trips or have more adults along for more supervision. Or stay home and watch Animal Channel.

    A good result would be for the zoo to totally glass in all pedestrian pathways to keep the dangerous predators (us) away from the animals.

  8. When I was a young mother (back before I understood why zoos are bad) I took my children to the Toronto zoo on a regular basis. They loved looking at the animals and it was a day of distraction for them. By the time we arrived home they would be exhausted and I would get time to myself after getting home, so the zoo was a popular outing. One of my girls was the type to get into everything even when you told her not to, so I was hypervigilant about watching her. Had I not been so hypervigilant, she may very well have tried to do the very same thing this little boy did. But I know my child, and as a result I made especially sure to see to it that she didn’t wander off and get herself into trouble. THAT is a parent’s job. Clearly the parents of this child were negligent in that area, or this would never have happened. Say what you will about the fact that “accidents happen”, but this one could have EASILY been avoided.

  9. i totally agree with ‘the author’. the parents had to have been more responsible in keeping an eye on their children. the mother said she other children to keep track of. that is no excuse. her post about accidents happen and people shouldn’t judge was arrogant as she absolved herself of responsibility. the post was taken down.

  10. We agree, Rumpy. Animals have to pay the purrize for the faults of people. When will they ever learn… RIP sweet gorilla. Soft Pawkisses, Little Binky and Granny ❤❤❤

    1. And that is usually the case. It’s the same with dog bites. We know many dog bites are against toddlers after the toddler antagonizes the dog. Toddlers know no better. Dogs do what dogs normally do when being bothered. Whose fault? The adults who should have never allowed that to happen. Who suffers? The child who is bitten and the dog who is often euthanized.

  11. Whatever happened to holding your 4-year-old’s hand?
    Thank you for this post. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the ethics of the situation. Don’t see what makes humans the superior species. xoM

  12. I was a leashed child. And I appreciate it, because I do remember the times I wandered away, and got lost – it was terrifying. Nothing was going to keep me from wandering because I always forgot the terror in the face of finding exciting new things. Nothing – I was a jerk. This was in the 70’s, by the way – mom likely had to make something up out of spare parts to hold on to me.
    So yes, I blame the parents. And yes, I blame the idea that zoos are for entertainment. And I blame the kid for being a jerk who didn’t listen, too. And the shouting crowd: they wouldn’t know better, but escalated the situation anyway.
    I’ll never blame the gorilla.
    I still think zoos do a lot of good work, however. Because they are the only places trying, in our limited human way, to fix the problems we already caused in our unlimited human way. There is no easy answer for those issues.

  13. People pay to watch animals “in their natural habitat” smh… If you wanna see a lion go to Africia where they are themselves. I hate zoos..

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