According to the social media reaction to Harambe the gorilla’s death, the whole internet is full of parenting gurus.

This weekend the media latched onto the story of a four-year-old boy who climbed through the barrier of a Gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo. Footage shows Harambe, a four hundred pound silverback Gorilla grabbing the child and dragging him around the moat.

The Dangerous Animal Unit at Cincinnati Zoo chose to shoot the endangered animal rather than use a tranquillizer as they deemed the situation to be life-threatening and in need of immediate action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmtCQCX7sFo

The killing of this endangered animal has caused a lot of anger and backlash on social media, which is on some level is understandable; an innocent animal died at the expense of a human being.

But how is this news? It happens every day. For centuries we’ve depended on an industry of breeding and slaughtering animals for the sole purpose of eating them. When a dog attacks a child (or an adult) we expect the dangerous animal to be destroyed, and we would not hold the parents of that child responsible for the dog’s behaviour.

The response to the killing of this animal has once again demonstrated mankind’s ability to partake in selective compassion for other living creatures, whether it is aimed at humans or animals. Once again the good people of the world have taken to their keyboards to become the judge and jury of the little boy’s parents.

Harambe Cincinnati zoo

I just want to begin this by stating that I am not a parent. But I do not doubt that the ten minutes those parents watched their son stuck in a moat with a potentially dangerous animal were the worst ten minutes of their lives. Many commenters are criticising the parents letting the child out of their sight, because of course all these keyboard warriors know exactly what happened before that video footage, can watch their children at all times 24/7 and have never been distracted in their lives.

Fundamentally speaking, children are terrorists. Anybody who has been around children for any length of time realises that you can’t watch them all the time, and once you slip up the child could be doing anything; unfortunately for the boy’s parents and for Harambe he decided to climb into a gorilla cage rather than eat something from off the floor. Unless you know exactly what the parents were doing it’s pointless to slate their parenting online – and it certainly doesn’t deserve thinly-veiled death threats.


The child’s mother, Michelle Gregg went to Facebook (oh Facebook, the root of all problems) to express her appreciation of the safety of her child and everyone has jumped on the “show some remorse for Harambe” bandwagon. The death of that gorilla was probably the last thing on her mind because she had more important things to worry about, like her son. She probably feels dreadful for the killing of Harambe. She is probably sitting at home bursting into tears because of what could have happened.

Cut the crap with your smug comments of, “I would never have allowed Finn to climb under that barrier” or “the parents should be held responsible for neglect.” How many times have you crossed the road with your kid and they have decided to mindlessly step out in front of a car? How many times have you had to yell at them when they’ve come flying through the kitchen while you have a hot drink in your hand? Kids will be kids.

How many times have you sat in A & E wracked with guilt whilst waiting for your kids head to get stitched up because you took your eye off them for a second? They are curious and imaginative. If your child had climbed through a barrier (a barrier that clearly failed in its sole purpose of keeping people out of the enclosure) you would expect the staff at the zoo to prioritise your child’s safety.

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