Cincinnati Zoo Reopens Gorilla Exhibit Where Boy Fell
Just a day after prosecutors found no reason to charge the mother of a boy who fell into a gorilla pit, the Cincinnati Zoo reopened the exhibit.
After the 3-year-old boy fell into the enclosure last week, 17-year-old gorilla Harambe picked him up and dragged him around for 10 minutes. The great ape was then shot and killed, triggering public outrage.
The Cincinnati Zoo reopened the exhibit on Tuesday with a higher, reinforced barrier that was installed, WLWT-TV reported.
A few zoo visitors and media members entered the exhibit at 10 a.m. local time. Some gorillas were out in view.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Monday that he wouldn’t bring charges against the boy’s mother. The child, he found had “just scampered off” as children sometimes do.
Deters said he’s happy improvements were made to the zoo exhibit.
Zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley said the new barrier is 42 inches high—or a half-foot taller than before. It features solid wood beams and knotted rope netting at the bottom.
The family said that Deters’ decision “is one more step in allowing us to put this tragic episode behind us.”
Deters said he was surprised by the reaction to the gorilla’s death, but he said, “It’s still an animal. It does not equate human life, and they felt that this boy’s life was in jeopardy, and they made the painful choice to do what they did.”
“This happened so quickly… there’s nothing the mother could have done,” he said, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
“By all accounts… this mother did not act in any way where she presented this child to some harm,” Deters said. “If anyone doesn’t believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly—they’ve never had kids. They can, and they do.”
An animal protection group has urged that the zoo be fined.
The zoo says its 10 remaining gorillas are doing well. Two are 20-year-old females that were grouped with Harambe. The others are a family group of eight, led by a silverback named Jomo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.