After the shooting of the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, many zoo-goers said that the animal had treated the child gently, but others saw a different picture.
Some witnesses said that the crowd reactions to the fall of the 4-year old boy into the enclosure had worsened the situation, and that in the end there was no chance to safely retrieve him from the gorilla.
At first, the gorilla had appeared to be protecting the boy, but then the screams of the crowd had alarmed the animal.
“He dragged the child a little further down into the moat and he … almost looked like he was helping him, pulled his pants up, stood him up, and then all of the sudden everybody started screaming again, and he pulled him completely out,” Kimberley O’Connor told CNN.
The gorilla then became more aggressive, and appeared to pose a danger to the child.
“From what we saw [the child] could have been killed at any second,” said Bruce Davis, another witness. “He threw him 10 feet in the air, and I saw him land on his back. It was a mess.”
The boy had tried to get away from the gorilla, but was pulled back.
“I saw him when he was on top of the habitat, dragging the boy, pulling him underneath him. It was not a good scene,” O’Connor said. “He literally picked the boy up by his calf and dragged him toward another cave to basically get him out of the view of this crowd that hadn’t yet dispersed.”
The director of the Cincinnati Zoo had stated that he would “make the same decision” to shoot the gorilla if given the chance, and other zoo officials said that the gorilla would’ve certainly killed the boy if the zoo hadn’t promptly acted.