No Charges Against Parents in Harambe the Gorilla’s Death


On May 28, curious four-year-old Isaiah Gregg crawled through the barriers of the gorilla enclosure in the Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio. Upon seeing this, the zookeepers lured the two female gorillas out, but male gorilla Harambe remained in the water.

This 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla didn’t even notice the child until it heard him splashing in the water. Harambe ran to the child and dragged him across the water by the ankle, as his head banged against the concrete floors. A zoo employee shot the gorilla with a rifle when the child was in between his legs. The officials then unlocked the gate and firefighters quickly retrieved the child. This entire ordeal occurred within a 10-minute time period.

Although this was an unfortunate death for the ape, the child’s life was saved. He was hospitalized and later released without major injuries. A few days ago, Isaiah’s family was awaiting the conclusion on potential criminal charges because the mother neglected to keep an eye on her son.

However, charges were not filed after a Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecuting attorney Joseph Deters said today, “this could happen to even the most attentive parent.”

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First of all, it is surprising to me that something like this even happened. The boy climbed through the three-foot metal fence, went through the four-feet-tall bushes, and jumped into the gorilla moat 15 feet below. According to Isaiah’s mother, anyone who knows her can vouch that she is a very “attentive mother” and only looked away for a second. A second? Really? Heck, I wouldn’t even be able to get through that barrier in a minute. Is this the same “be there in a second” we tell people when we really mean 5-10 minutes?

Seems to me like this kid was Jackie Chan’s son. I am pretty sure four-year-olds are old enough to at least comprehend that crawling into the gorilla exhibit for playtime is far from okay.

The mother, Michelle Gregg, was obviously occupied with four children to take care of. It’s often so easy to blame someone when we haven’t gone through the same situation. But criminal charges? I think that is a bit much for some “parental negligence” as they call it. Regardless, something more could have been done from both sides to prevent this. Now it is just a lesson for us to be ready to pounce on our children the second they stray at the zoo.

Harambe turned 17 at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden on Friday, May 27. The zoo celebrated his birthday and the very next day, zoo employees killed the critically endangered ape.

Why? Harambe acted like a gorilla.

What are your views on this case? Let me know in the comments below.


15 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for your post! I am quite upset by this whole thing. Maybe the mother shouldn’t be charged, but perhaps the zoo should? If a child can get into a gorilla enclosure, that seems like negligence on their part for failing to have propper barriers in place. Unfortunately, the zoo can’t assume that every parent is going to be always attentive, nor that every child will be well behaved. So really, they have to assume the worst and make sure this type of thing isn’t possible. Also, I was disturbed by the judge’s comments about the value of a gorilla vs that of a child – I think one of humanity’s greatest flaws is assuming that for some reason we are the most important beings that exist. That’s why we are destroying this planet.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That is a very valid point. I want to say that maybe we could have saved the gorilla too by tranquilizing it rather than shooting it, but this may have agitated the ape, causing struggle and anger that could have possibly been inflicted on the child, killing the boy. So it also comes down to the question “what if?” Animals are important, but this government and laws are meant for human beings so I think humans are to be protected first. Animals are important too but since they aren’t capable of speaking, they lack as much judgement than us, they aren’t able to pursue career goals, etc. they aren’t given first priority. At the end of the day, humans will change the world. Animals will always be animals that we love and care for. Better barriers should definitely have been in place, but making it child-proof? I am pretty sure any kid, if curious enough, will find a way to crawl through some tiny crack or space to see the animal of its liking. There are cases of grown men who were stupid enough to irritate a lion through a 10 ft fence and climb onto it, and the lion somehow still managed to pull the guy into the enclosure. Animals are powerful and there is no telling how high or thick a barrier should be made. If it is angry enough or the person is dumb enough, bad things can and will happen.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Tim Taylor says:

    Like you, it would have taken me a good 5 minutes to navigate my way through all of that, but I have a six year old and know just how fast the little curtain climbers can go. Personally, I would have had one of those kid leashes on my child, I’ve used ’em before, they work great.

    As for the ape, well, I’m no animal expert but I somehow don’t believe the child would have been hurt had the keepers kept their heads and handled it a different way.

    On the other hand, HAD it been my child, I would have been over the fence and in there with the gorilla and my son. Not sure exactly what I could have done but that would have been first reaction.

    So, with that being said, nice write up on the issue.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I think killing the animal was too drastic, the mother should have been way more attentive, and the barriers could have been somewhat safer. Those unprotected places are literally asking for danger.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Olive Ole says:

    Gorilla: Hello? Yes. Um. A small human has broken into my house?
    Humans: What? OK, Sir! Stay calm! We are on our way to murder you!
    Gorilla: WTF??!!

    Seriously, it happened, and can’t be undone. Important that the Zoo takes a lesson-learned session and take the opportunity to improve the barriers, not only for the gorlla pen, but thoughout the premises. A hefty fine should also be imposed on them, along with a good plan of measures taken to avoid this, or anything similar to hapen again. They should not be allowed to open to the public until appropriate measures have been set in place.

    The parent – who was negligent ENOUGH to not hinder the child from breaking barriers, and thus putting both child and animal at risk, should also be given a hefty fine, along with quite a bit of quidance!

    The child – hope he gets whtever help he needs in coping with trauma, and that measures are set in place to ensure his well being.

    And the Gorilla? Well, he just paid the ultimate cost for human stupidity and events that were totally out of his control. And that pisses me off to no end.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. dray0308 says:

    Reblogged this on Dream Big, Dream Often and commented:
    You need to be following One More Shot Please!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tessa says:

    I read that mother had 4 toddlers she was watching. Too many for one person. She should be fined at the very least. And as one person said, that was no “just a minute honey.” Bad situation all around and the gorilla/ape paid the ultimate price.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These barriers are made keeping in mind “how will it keep the animal from coming out and attacking?”They are made so that the normal child or human being is unable to simply stumble into the enclosure and assuming that parents will keep a close eye on their children. 4 children is a lot to handle. It may have been better if she came with another person so it would have been easier to manage. The zoo would get a bad reputation nonetheless a lot of criticism for fining a visitor even if they feel it was her fault. So I think that is why they avoided it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yecheilyah says:

    I’m shocked that we are having this conversation and that the outrage over this situation is so overwhelming. I don’t see much compassion for the mother who had to watch her son be dragged around by a Gorilla. I don’t know what I would do in her shoes. Its easy to say what we would do but no one knows for sure until the moment comes. Anyone who understands children know that this can happen to any parent no matter how closely you think you’re watching your child. Now, about the Gorilla I have two points:

    a. No animal, or human being for that matter, deserves to be held in captivity. The Gorilla was not created to be in a cage in the first place. He shouldn’t have been there. Gorillas and Lions aren’t cats and dogs. They have to be in their natural environment.

    b. He’s a Gorilla! Is the life of an animal more important than that of a child? The zoo did what was in the best interest of the child. Tranquilizing a Silver Back Gorrilla would not have been wise and a huge risk. You don’t take chances when a baby’s life is in danger. Speaking of the zoo, if anyone should be charged it is the zoo. Obviously their barriers aren’t safe enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The debate about charges was definitely unnecessary. It also is very easy to put blame on someone when you haven’t gone through the experience . She had four other children to look after which must have gotten hard. I think Wildlife Sanctuaries are much better for these animals to protect them from being hunted but also allowing them to stay in their natural habitat.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. memadtwo says:

    The exhibit had been there since (I believe) 1974 without incident. If this kid had ADD or some kind of impulse control issue, he should have been holding his mother’s hand or been on a leash. I totally blame the mother. This never should have happened but unfortunately for Harambe, it did and he paid the price for human stupidity. N.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. michelle213norton says:

    You don’t go to the zoo with 4 toddlers and a 4 year old. You go to the playground!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. tempestjoy says:

    I feel bad for the gorilla, their keepers, the family and the child. As a mother, you just can’t win though. If she were more attentive, she would have been accused of being a helicopter mom. So sick of parent shaming.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true. It’s so easy to put blame on others. I even heard from someone that the potential charges and parent shaming are probably because they are a black family. That may also be true.

      Liked by 1 person

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