Expert Agrees With Cincinnati Zoo’s Decision to Shoot Gorilla

May 30, 2016 4:08 pm Last Updated: May 30, 2016 7:46 pm

Jack Hanna, the famed wildlife expert and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo, said he agreed with the Cincinnati Zoo’s move to use lethal force against a 17-year-old gorilla after a 4-year-old boy fell into its enclosure.

Hanna, who has made numerous television appearances, said he agrees “1,000 percent” with the zoo’s move to shoot the gorilla, named Harambe.

“They made the correct decision. Matter of fact, it’s a millisecond decision,” Hanna said on “CBS This Morning” Monday. “All of us are sorry. We’re all, in the zoo world, heartfelt for this whole thing but thank goodness a human being is alive today because of the decision that the zoo made.”

He also rejected the idea that zookeepers should have used a tranquilizer instead to subdue the 450-pound animal. He said it was too dangerous to wait “five to 10 minutes” for the tranquilizing effect to kick in.

“You hear the screaming going on. Watch that gorilla’s response … he hears the response, you can see from the face now he’s alarmed…” Hanna added, speaking on the video. “I know that dart hits the animal… it’s like a shot but he jumps like this. What would happen if he had a hold of that little boy?”

“Thank goodness the human being is alive today because of the decision the Cincinnati Zoo made,” he said.

The 4-year-old boy climbed underneath the zoo’s railing and fell about 10 feet into the zoo’s moat.

Another expert, Ian Redmond, Chairman of The Gorilla Organization, said that zoo officials had other options than shooting the gorilla.

“When gorilla or other apes have things they shouldn’t have, keepers will negotiate with them, bring food, their favorite treats, pineapple or some kind of fruit that they don’t know and negotiate with them,” he told CNN.

“I don’t know if that was tried or people thought there was too much danger but it does seem very unfortunate that a lethal shot was required,” he added.

Another animal expert, Jeff Corwin, told the network that tranquilizers might have taken too long to act. “It can take, in some situations, depending on what the medication is, it can take upward to 10 to 15 minutes. It may take multiple shots,” he said.

On social media and elsewhere, a number of people slammed the parents of the child, and some said she should be criminally charged.

Others also criticized the zoo’s response to the situation.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also released a statement, saying the zoo needs better barriers.

“This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at,” the statement read.