Zoo officials have shot dead a gorilla after a four-year-old boy fell into its enclosure in the US city of Cincinnati. The boy climbed through a barrier and fell into a moat, where he was grabbed and dragged by the gorilla.
The zoo said it took action to shoot the 400lb (180kg) gorilla as the situation was “life-threatening”. The boy is expected to recover.
The boy had fallen about 10ft into the moat. Video shows the boy being dragged through the shallow moat. The gorilla then stops, with the child below him and looking up at him.
But the boy was reportedly dragged by the 17-year-old male western lowland gorilla named Harambe for about 10 minutes.
The child was taken to a local hospital and although no information about his condition has been released it is believed he will recover.
Zoo director Thane Maynard said, “Made a tough choice and they made the right choice because they saved that little boy’s life. It could have been very bad.”
He said a tranquilliser would not have had a quick enough effect.
Mr Maynard said that although the boy was not under attack, he “certainly was at risk”.
He added: “We are all devastated that this tragic accident resulted in the death of a critically-endangered gorilla. This is a huge loss for the zoo family and the gorilla population worldwide.”
Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard confirmed the boy was not under attack, but called it a ‘life threatening situation’ where the gorilla was ‘agitated’, ‘disoriented’, and ‘behaving erratically’.