The mother of the 4-year-old boy who fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo blasted her critics, saying that “accidents happen.”
In a post on Facebook, Michelle Gregg apparently fired back after some claimed she wasn’t keeping a close eye on her child.
After falling into the enclosure, the gorilla, named Harambe, dragged him around. Zoo officials were forced to shoot the animal.
“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today. What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one,” she wrote, according to the New York Post. “For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him.”
She added: “My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes… no broken bones or internal injuries.”
“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today.”
Police officers are now looking into charging the parents of the boy with child neglect.
The shooting on Harambe outraged animal rights activists and animal lovers. More than 70,000 people signed a Change.org petition calling for the parents to be investigated.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 29, 2016
The Cincinnati Zoo was also sharply criticized.
However, a famed animal expert said the 450-pound gorilla would have eventually killed the boy.
“I’ve seen him take a green coconut, which you can’t bust open with a sledgehammer and squish it like this,” Jack Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, told ABC News, referring to Harambe.
He said, “You’re dealing with either human life or animal life here. So what is the decision? I think it’s very simple to figure that out.”
A witness said the gorilla was protecting the boy. “The little boy, once he fell, I don’t think the gorilla even knew that he was in there until he heard him splashing in the water,” witness Brittany Nicely told ABC News. “The gorilla rushed the boy, but did not hit the boy,” Nicely added. “He almost was guarding the boy, was protecting him.”
Hanna, who is a host of TV shows about wild animals, said the boy would have been killed without zoo intervention.
“I can tell you now, that there’s no doubt in my mind the child would not be here today if they hadn’t made that decision,” Hanna said.
“Remember something, no one loves gorillas more than the Columbus Zoo, the Cincinnati Zoo and the zoo world,” Hanna added. “We have given literally millions and millions of dollars to preserve these animals, both mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas.”