On a Gorilla

Image from the Cincinnati Zoo

Image from the Cincinnati Zoo

The recent incident at the Cincinnati Zoo is known throughout the world. Because I proudly wear my Cincinnati heart on my blogging adventures, I’m sure I popped into the mind of many readers when they heard the news.

What happened here was tragic on many levels. I can’t image the terror in the mother’s mind – let alone what the child was thinking when with a large gorilla so close. Zoo officials hurt – and the members of the zoo’s response team must have extremely heavy hearts.
We hear about the incident everyday on the local news outlets, let alone the information we receive online. There is a lot of finger-pointing, shaming, and general noise by many from all corners of the world – which include death threats to the parents, harassment to a bystander who witnessed the event, countless comments of various degrees in social media, and this editorial by the Toledo Blade shamed its own zoo direction and called for boycotting “all things Cincinnati” as well as firing our zoo director. Bottom line, most of the crap is noise by clueless people.
I’ve never been a parent, but I imagine many parents have had moments when a child gets away – that is, creating a “bad parent” situation – such as the child who almost gets hit by a car or gets into something they shouldn’t be. That has to happen to many – but I acknowledge, maybe not to this extreme.
This is a sad and unfortunate situation – one when zoo officials were placed into a lose-lose situation – and chose to do something they are against doing. Although I admit my first thought was wondering a phrase starting with, “how could the parent” – I continue having a difficult time with the mere thought of charging the mother with a crime – and I still have the deepest thoughts for the zoo employees who absolutely love animals.
The words below are from an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer written by Opinion Editor Cindi Andrews. They were meaningful to me when I read them on 31 May and they are still meaningful today.
Amid the blame and social noise, let’s pause to be thankful that the child is OK and to truly mourn the loss of another life, not so different from a human one. That doesn’t happen on a smartphone or a computer. It happens quietly, perhaps by remembering a past trip to the zoo or thinking about our relationship with the animal kingdom.
Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those zoo workers who knew Harambe so much better than us, and had to witness or even have a hand in his death. As a child wrote in a sympathy card left at the zoo: “We are so sad that you had to kill one of your gorillas – we love the gorillas.”
In Harambe’s memory, let’s take a moment to let go of anger and simply be sad.
As the finger pointers, shames, blamers, and cranks concentrate their efforts on the mother, Cincinnati Zoo, the zoo’s director, I find it interesting that these same people are very quiet the bigger issues at hand – the protection of gorillas in the wild, action against poachers and hunters, the protection of their nature habitat from logging, farming, mining, and other forms of human expansion.
To close this post, I’m linking several resources that confront the issues I mentioned above – World Wildlife Fund, Mbeli Bais Study, and the newly formed Harambe Fund – but personally, I’ll still dealing with the impact of the actual situation on me. So, I close with two readings from the Cincinnati Enquirer and one from the Cincinnati Zoo.