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It's Been Five Years Since Harambe The Gorilla Was Killed At Cincinnati Zoo

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It's Been Five Years Since Harambe The Gorilla Was Killed At Cincinnati Zoo

It may come as no surprise to you, given the real and present despair we all carry with us every day, but it has been five years since Harambe the gorilla was killed at Cincinnati Zoo.

Remember 2016? It was a simpler time where the average person didn't have to have a degree in viral epidemiology to work out if they could go to the pub.

Our biggest concern was whether our favourite celebrity might imminently die, and that felt bad enough at the time.

How lucky we were, and how little we knew.

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On 28 May 2016, the biggest news story in the world was that a western lowland gorilla called Harambe was shot dead by a zoo worker after a three-year-old boy climbed into his enclosure.

A three-year-old climbed into Harambe's enclosure. Credit: ViralHog
A three-year-old climbed into Harambe's enclosure. Credit: ViralHog

Fearing for the boy's safety, the decision was taken to kill the ape, but - because we live in the social media generation - the whole incident was filmed and immediately splayed across the internet for people far and wide to have their opinion on.

In hindsight, the story would have been a lot worse had a three-year-old boy been torn to pieces by a gorilla in an American zoo, but it's still not great that poor Harambe had to die.

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Harambe was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Texas in 1999. Named after a song by Bob Marley's wife Rita, he was brought to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in 2014 in order to learn how to socialise with other gorillas.

Then came that fateful day in May 2016.

The child clearly wanted to get into the gorilla enclosure, unaware of how much danger that might put him in.

Tributes to Harambe left after the shooting. Credit: PA
Tributes to Harambe left after the shooting. Credit: PA
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He was reported to have climbed a three-foot fence, crawled through some bushes, then fell into a shallow moat within the enclosure.

That's when Harambe decided to check out what was happening.

With people screaming and shouting, Harambe became increasingly distressed and started moving the child around.

As zoo officials became increasingly concerned for the safety of the child, the decision was taken to shoot Harambe.

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He was killed with a single shot from a rifle, just one day after his 17th birthday.

The child was taken to hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

In the aftermath of the killing, a debate broke out about whether shooting Harambe was the right thing to do.

More tributes at the Gorilla World enclosure. Credit: PA
More tributes at the Gorilla World enclosure. Credit: PA
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Zoo director Thane Maynard said: "The child was being dragged around ... His head was banging on concrete. This was not a gentle thing. The child was at risk."

Primatologist Frans de Waal told National Geographic: "A gorilla is so immensely strong that even with the best of intentions - and we are not sure that Harambe had those - the child's death was a probable outcome."

Still, a sad day for all concerned.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Interesting, US News, Weird, Animals, Harambe

Tom Wood
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