Criminal charges possible in killing of gorilla
AP photoPolice may bring criminal charges over a Cincinnati Zoo incident in which a gorilla was killed to rescue a 3-year-old boy who had fallen into its enclosure, a prosecutor said on May 31.
The death of Harambe, a 200-kg gorilla, also prompted the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to file a negligence complaint on May 31 against the zoo with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group is seeking the maximum penalty of $10,000.
The group said in its complaint letter that the child’s ability to get past the barrier was proof the zoo was negligent and should be fined for a “clear and fatal violation of the Animal Welfare Act.”
Mounting outrage over thr killing of the Western lowland silverback, an endangered species, sparked criticism of both the zoo and the child’s parents. Online petitions at change.org drew more than 500,000 signatures demanding “Justice for Harambe.”
Cincinnati police are taking a second look at possible criminal charges in the incident after initially saying no one was charged. There was no indication of whether the investigation would focus on the zoo or the child’s parents.
“Once their investigation is concluded, they will confer with our office on possible criminal charges,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said in a statement. Witnesses said the child had expressed a desire to get into the enclosure and climbed over a 1-meter barrier, falling 4.6 meters into a moat. Zookeepers took down the 17-year-old ape after he violently dragged and tossed the child, officials said.
The boy’s mother said on Facebook that the boy suffered a concussion and scrapes but wasotherwise fine.
The Gorilla World exhibit has been closed since the incident and will reopen on June 4.