Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo gorilla, was sending mixed messages. He was both nurturing and erratic with the child who entered his territory. The child was not significantly harmed after 10 minutes with this supposed wild animal. Harambe first should have been tranquilized.
If he became a mortal threat after the tranquilization dart, then he should have been shot.
The zoo’s Dangerous Response Team seems to have limited options in dealing with this kind of situation. Was the zoo’s veterinarian or the gorilla’s keeper, who knew Harambe well, part of the decision-making process?
Zoos are the last hope for many critically endangered species. We do not expect such animals to be executed summarily.
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Steven Leidner, DVM,