Nate M. Pennsylvania

Harambe and zoo killings

The killing of Harambe and other zoo animals is a problem and change is needed

Dear Mr./Mrs. President,

The day was May, 28, 2016. At approximately four o’clock in the afternoon, a seventeen-year-old male, western lowland gorilla who had not been a violent animal was in the gorilla enclosure when a three year old had some got in was the wrongful victim of a cruel fate. Somehow, a three-year-old boy evaded his parental supervision and climbed a three foot tall fence, crawled through fourteen feet of bushes, and fell fifteen feet into the moat of the enclosure. After this had happened, Harambe went to investigate. When the gorilla came across the boy, he took him in and dragged him to the other end of the moat. He was 440 pounds and therefore very intimidating. Fearing for the child's life, the zoo shot the gentle silver back and killed him.

This event sparked media outrage and raised many questions such as: Was the child in danger or was Harambe protecting him? Did the mother purposely look after her child poorly for publicity? Was it necessary to shoot Harambe or could they have just sedated him? Although lots of people thought the mother should have been charged, she was not because there was no solid evidence of her purposefully putting her son in harm: “I was occupied by my other three children and when I turned around he was gone.” This was her account but many people blame her. In my opinion, the zoo should strive further to make it harder for people to make it into exhibits which is exactly what they did. After the matter, they raised the public barrier to 42 inches and added solid wood beams to the top of it.

Zoo safety for animals and people is a major problem in the United States; other instances of this have occurred before. In May 2016, a suicidal man stripped and got into the tiger enclosure at the Santiago Metropolitan Zoo in Chile where he started taunting a male and female lion. After they started mauling him and dragging him away, zoo officials shot and killed the tigers. This was six days before the killing of Harambe. Another instance occurred in November 2012 at the Pittsburgh Zoo. A mother lifted her two-year-old, vision-impaired son onto the railing of the observation deck for the endangered African painted dogs enclosure. Unfortunately, the boy slipped out of his mother’s grasp and fell into the enclosure. Every dog but one obeyed the zoo keepers when they called them back except for a particularly aggressive dog who mauled and tragically killed the boy.

All of these instances have something in common: they could have been prevented. These were just a few of the many zoo animal killings in the last century. Every one of them could have been stopped with more protection to the animals. Zoos should be more closely inspected for safety to both the people and animals. Simple things like netting, higher walls, or even more safety signs. How it’s done is up to you, Mr./Mrs. President, but we need change.    

Bala Cynwyd Middle School

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