Harambe’s death a stark reminder of zoo accidents

Harambe’s death a stark reminder of zoo accidents


The gorilla’s death at the Cincinnati Zoo was one of several in a week in zoos worldwide.

Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the zoo.

The recent killing of a gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo serves as a stark reminder of the safety lapses—for animals and humans alike—that continue to affect zoos worldwide, including in the United States.

Officials at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday shot and killed Harambe, a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla, in an effort to protect a young child who had fallen into the enclosure.

Harambe’s death comes at a time when each gorilla life is vital: Western lowland gorillas are critically endangered, numbering fewer than 175,000 in the wild. There are about 765 gorillas like Harambe in zoos worldwide, 360 of which are members of a captive breeding program.

Since 1990, animals died during escapes or attacks 42 times in U.S. zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, according to a database compiled by Born Free USA, a nonprofit animal advocacy group. In that same timeframe, 15 zoo incidents resulted in the loss of human life, and 110 resulted in injury, including the Cincinnati Zoo incident.

Harambe is the first gorilla to be fatally shot in a U.S. zoo since the 2004 death of Jabari, a 13-year-old western lowland gorilla that escaped from the Dallas Zoo and attacked several people before charging at police officers, who ultimately shot him.

Primates in accredited U.S. zoos have injured humans on 15 separate occasions since 1990, accounting for less than a seventh of total human injuries. Primates have not been involved in a lethal U.S. zoo accident in the last 26 years, reports AFP.


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