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Old 31-05-16, 22:44   #1
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Angry PhOtOts-Was Zoo's Silverback Gorilla Killed Unnecessarily?

The Four-Year-old Boy who Fell into Zoo's Gorilla Enclosure, Prompting Keepers to Shoot Harambe - Creating Revulsion Around the World

  • Harambe was fatally shot after four-year-old Isiah Dickerson crawled past the railing and fell 15ft into the gorilla exhibit moat, authorities said
  • But witnesses said the gorilla was 'acting protectively' and zoo director confirmed the boy was not under attack
  • Video shows boy reaching for Harambe's arm, and they briefly held hands
  • Many have blamed the boy's parents for 17-year-old Harambe's death
  • They released a statement on Sunday saying their boy is doing 'just fine'
  • Zoo director said Harambe was 'disoriented' and tranquilizer would have taken too long with the possibility of agitating the animal even more
  • He insisted barriers were secure, asking: 'Do you know any four-year-olds? They can climb over anything'
Daily Mail UK, 31 May 2016

Isiah Dickerson was taken by Harambe the silverback when the boy fell into the moat around Cincinnati enclosure. The decision to kill the primate has prompted a worldwide backlash.

Isiah, seen with his mother Michelle Gregg, 32, and father Deonne Dickerson, 36, suffered only a concussion. But zookeepers feared he was in mortal danger from Harambe, who at 450lb is far bigger and stronger than any human.

There has been huge debate over whether the gorilla was trying to help the boy or whether he was in genuine danger from the primate.

Isiah Dickerson was with his mother Michelle Gregg at Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, when he somehow made his way through a barrier, into a moat - and was lifted up by Harambe.
Within minutes the 17-year-old 450lb silverback was killed by zookeepers who feared for Isiah's safety.
But the decision has sparked a backlash, with calls for the boy's parents to be prosecuted.

Isiah is recovering from minor injuries and his mother has not been seen at the Cincinnati home where she lives.
His father, Deonne Dickerson, 36, has also not been seen since the killing of the gorilla. He was not with his partner and their four children at the time.

Close: Deonne Dickerson, his partner Michelle Gregg and their children, including Isiah

Mom and dad: Deonne Dickerson and Michelle Gregg are the parents of the four-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla enclosure of Harambe on Saturday at Cincinnati Zoo

Soon after the incident, Michelle Gregg,32, posted a message on Facebook saying: '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.'

Together: Deonne Dickerson has a past history of violent crime. He now lives in Cincinnati with partner Michelle Gregg and together they have four children

The family released a statement on Sunday saying they had taken their boy home from the hospital.
It read:

'We are so thankful to the Lord that our child is safe. He is home and doing just fine. We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff.
'We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla. We hope that you will respect our privacy at this time.'

The family have been subject to death threats. They are not facing a police investigation.

The zoo, however, is and is also now the subject of a complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture, which regulates safety for animals and visitors.

The boy's father has a significant criminal history, with offenses including burglary, firearms offences, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap.
In 2006 he was sentenced to one year behind bars for a drug trafficking conviction.

But in numerous pictures posted on Dickerson's Facebook site in recent years he appears to have turned his life around to become the proud father of four.

Indeed, the majority of his postings to the social media site are updates of his children and his working life.
In others pictures he has uploaded his friends post congratulate him and Michelle on the birth of their fourth child last January.

Cleveland-based Dickerson is from Atlanta, Georgia studied at Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio and now works as a sorter at a Cincinnati industrial equipment supplier.

Gregg is currently the administrator at a Cincinnati pre-school.
She has been the subject of sharp criticism following the incident that saw zoo staff shoot dead Harambe who, according to new video footage, may have been protecting rather than threatening the child after he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla's enclosure.

Many social media commenters have criticized the boy's parents and said they should be held accountable. A Cincinnati police spokesman said no charges were being considered. A spokeswoman for the family said Monday they had no plans to comment.

'I do think there's a degree of responsibility they have to be held to,' said Kate Villanueva, a mother of two children from Erlanger, Kentucky, who started the 'Justice for Harambe' page and attended Monday's vigil. 'You have to be watching your children at all times.'
More outraged animal lovers took to social media declaring the western lowland gorilla's life was unnecessarily taken, and more than 4,000 have already joined the 'Justice for Harambe'.

A special zoo response team shot and killed a 17-year-old gorilla named Harambe to protect a four-year-old who fell in the enclosure. But new video footage shows the two briefly holding hands (pictured)

The clip shows Harambe standing guard in the corner of the moat with the boy behind Harambe, and witnesses said the gorilla looked like he was trying to protect the boy from panicked bystanders

Ian Redmond, the chairman of the Gorilla Organization, told CNN : 'When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn't have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don't know and negotiate with them.'

Primatologist Julia Gallucci said: 'The gorilla enclosure should have been surrounded by a secondary barrier between the humans and the animals to prevent exactly this type of incident.'

Others are placing the blame squarely on the boy's parents.

More than 115,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling for the mother and father to be 'held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child'.

One Twitter user wrote: 'So a beautiful, innocent gorilla has to die because neglectful parents can't control their kids? Mankind sucks #Harambe #CincinnatiZoo'

Another user Chris Dasauchoit tweeted: 'Beautiful animals sadly paying for utter human stupidity and negligence with their lives. #Harame #CincinnatiZoo.'

The zoo shot the beloved animal after he dragged the boy through the water and up out of the moat, but many say he was simply trying to protect the child

Deidre Lykins was also at the zoo when she saw the boy drop into the enclosure.
She described how Ms Gregg was calling out for her son and had just been next to him when he disappeared.
Then she had to stop her husband from going in to try and rescue him. But she insists Ms Gregg is not at fault, and wrote on Facebook: 'This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation!

'This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!'
This comes as new video footage of Harambe the gorilla suggests he was trying to protect a four-year-old boy who fell into the zoo enclosure just minutes before the 400-pound animal was fatally shot.

Many are placing the blame squarely on the parents of a four-year-old boy

The small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which the mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: 'No, you're not, no, you're not,' according to one witness

The clip shows Harambe standing guard over the boy in the corner of the moat, and the two even share a brief moment holding hands.

Witnesses said the gorilla was acting protectively in the tense situation, which may have been aggravated by panicked onlookers who screamed as they watched from above.

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard confirmed the boy was not under attack, but called it a 'life threatening situation' where the gorilla was 'agitated', 'disoriented', and 'behaving erratically'.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Maynard supported the animal response team's decision to kill Harambe, and said: 'Looking back we would make the same decision.'
He also insisted the zoo's barriers were secure, saying: 'We all need to work to make sure our families are safe. Do you know any four-year-olds? They can climb over anything.'

The incident, which was captured on a cell phone camera, has sparked an outcry of emotion, with thousands of mourners branding it a 'senseless death'.

A mother who was at the zoo said she tried to stop the child, who authorities believe crawled past the railing and fell 10 feet into the gorilla's habitat, where he spent more than 10 minutes.

'I tried to prevent it, I tried to grab him and I just couldn't get to him fast enough,' Brittany Nicely

According to Nicely, the gorilla was acting protectively towards the boy and did not exhibit any threatening behavior.

A newly released video shows Harambe standing over the boy in the corner of the moat, appearing to shield him from the screaming crowd above.
The animal then dragged the boy by the leg, but the two shared a surprisingly tender moment when the four-year-old reached for Harambe's arm and the two briefly held hands.

According to the fire department incident report, the gorilla was 'violently dragging and throwing the child', WLWT reported.

But Nicely contradicted the account, saying: 'What the first responders saw, I'm just not sure...They said he was violently throwing the child around, which seems crazy to me.


Police and prosecutors are investigating the zoo which shot Harambe the gorilla - and the federal government has received a formal complaint about its safety record.

Animal rights activists have made Cincinnati zoo the subject of a formal complaint to the United States Department of Agriculture and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA) following the shooting of the silverback gorilla after a four-year-old child fell into his enclosure.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW (SAEN) alleges several potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which regulates animal exhibitors and is intended to safeguard both animals and zoo visitors.

It highlighted a recent safety breach at the zoo, when two polar bears escaped their enclosure and got into a service hallway.

Separately, prosecutors have asked police to look into the death.
The zoo was cited after the breach in March this year, prompting the campaign group to say that it raised questions over its approach to safety.

Michael Budkie, the spokesman for SAEN, said: 'If this enclosure had been constructed adequately a four-year-old child could not have penetrated it.
'This wasn't someone who came in with grappling hooks and ropes. You tell me. If a four-year-old child can get through the barrier is that a safe barrier?'

The group's complaint centers on the killing of Harambe being the second incident within just over ten weeks.
On 17 March 2016 the USDA cited the zoo when two polar bears 'Little One' and 'Berit' - escaped their enclosure and entered the zoo's Bearline service hallway.

Escaped: Male polar bear Little One (right) and female Berit (left) managed to get out of their enclosure because of two doors left open in error. The USDA said human life could have been harmed

The discovery was made by a keeper when she entered the hallway to be confronted by a female bear about 30 feet away.
The shooting team and veterinary staff were notified by security and both bears were darted and ultimately safely returned to their enclosure.

The USDA found human error to be to blame after it was established that two doors were left open by the keeper.

In its report, the USDA warned that the incident 'could have resulted in human injury or death' and noted that this was a repeat citation.
The zoo has also previously been cited for their Eastern black and white colobus monkey enclosures that were found to be rotting and in a poor state of repair in some sections planks of wood were completely worn away.

Budkie said: 'What happened this weekend made it very clear, the barriers are not adequate to keep people out of the enclosures.
'It is clear that the Cincinnati Zoo has violated the Animal Welfare Act. It is also clear that the Cincinnati Zoo has had previous citations for violations.
'One was a repeat citation for a facility which is rare.'

A prosecutor's office says police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the four-year-old's entrance into the enclosure and the gorilla's death.
The Hamilton County prosecutor's office said Tuesday that police will confer with prosecutors after their investigation is complete.

Cincinnati police said over the weekend that no charges were planned. However, spokeswoman Tiffaney Hardey says police are reviewing the matter and continuing to gather information.

'They have a picture of the boy sitting in front of the gorilla moments before they shot him.'

Kim O'Connor said she heard the boy talking about getting into the water before she heard a splash, followed by frantic yelling when onlookers realized he was inside the enclosure.
According to O'Connor, the gorilla looked like he was trying to protect the boy from panicked bystanders who may have aggravated the tense situation.

'I don't know if the screaming did it or too many people hanging on the edge, if he thought we were coming in, but then he pulled the boy down away further from the big group,' she said.

Harambe later dragged the four-year-old out of the moat before he was fatally shot with a rifle while the boy was still between the animal's legs.

The zoo director confirmed the gorilla did not appear to be attacking the child, but he described it as 'an extremely strong animal in an agitated situation'.

'You're talking about an animal that's over 400 pounds and extremely strong. So no, the child wasn't under attack but all sorts of things could happen in a situation like that. He certainly was at risk,' Maynard said

During a press conference on Monday, Maynard said Harambe was 'behaving erratically', before adding: 'The child wasn't just being endangered, but dragged around by the ankle and hurt.'

He explained that tranquilizing the gorilla, which could have taken several attempts, would have left the boy in danger since the effect would not have been immediate.

He also said in a statement released Sunday: 'The impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse.
'We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.'

He supported the zoo's dangerous animal response team for their decision to kill Harambe, and said: 'They made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy's life.'
During Monday's press conference, Maynard said he wasn't there to 'point fingers' but said: 'We all need to work to make sure our families are safe.'

'We're the ones who took the loss on this- you can trust me, a lot of people expressed concerns, but it doesn't affect anyone as much as the people at the zoo.
'This is a very big loss to the zoo- not just an emotional loss, but a loss to a key conservation and breeding program.'

On Monday, the zoo director insisted the horizontal barriers were secure and said: 'We take safety very seriously and we are keenly interested in improvement.
'Any of us could climb over barriers if we choose. As I said, you can lock your car or lock your house, but if someone wants to get in, they can.'

He cited the incident last week in Chile, where a man with a suicide note in his pocket stripped down and broke into a lion enclosure at the Santiago Zoo where he was mauled before two of the animals were shot dead.

The animal response team at Cincinnato Zoo had practiced drills and 'table top discussions' after the incident, without realizing they would be facing a similar scenario on Saturday.
While safety measures are being evaluated, Maynard said the gorilla exhibit is expected to reopen next weekend without citing specific security improvements.

Harambe (top) was raised at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas (left) before he was moved to Cincinnati in 2014. He is a western lowland gorilla, which the World Wildlife Fund deemed critically endangered

Zoo director Maynard noted it was the first time the team had killed a zoo animal in such an emergency situation, and he called it 'a very sad day'.
He said said in a statement: 'The Zoo security team's quick response saved the child's life.
'We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the Zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.'

Jerry Stones, who worked at the Gladys Porter Zoo, in Bronwsville, Texas, where Harambe lived before he was transferred in 2014, said he was devastated by the news.
Stones, who raised the gorilla, said: 'It tore me a new one. An old man can cry, too. He was a special guy in my life. It's a sad day for us.'
He added: 'He grew up to be a pretty, beautiful male. He was very intelligent. His mind was going constantly. He was just such a sharp character.'

Western lowland gorillas are deemed critically endangered by the World Wildlife Fund, but Maynard said Harambe's death would not be the end of his lineage, since viable sperm was stored at the zoo.
Gorilla World has been closed since the incident on Saturday, although Maynard said it was expected to reopen by next weekend. The rest of the zoo has been open as usual.

In March, two curious polar bears at the zoo wandered into a behind-the-scenes service hallway through an open den door, but never left a secondary containment area.

The zoo said the 17-year-old female Berit and the 26-year-old male Little One, entered an 'inappropriate' area but remained contained and were never loose or a threat to the public.
During that incident, zoo officials said staff followed protocols and safely returned the bears to their main holding area within two hours.

The zoo celebrated Harambe's birthday on Friday

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