Over the weekend – Saturday, to be exact – the Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed a western lowland gorilla after a 4-year-old boy slipped into the animal’s enclosure. The 17-year old, 400-pound gorilla, Harambe carried the boy around its space for about 10 minutes, and the zoo’s dangerous animal response team considered a life-threatening situation.

The boy was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while Harambe was shot with a rifle. It appears that the boy had gone under the rail, through the wires, and over the moat wall to get inside the arena.

All of this is horrible; the entire story is terrible that an animal died, that a child had gotten into this cage, and that the child had to go to the hospital for being at the zoo, but it may not be as bad as the whiplash that the mother, Michelle Gregg, has received.


It’s true that maybe the mother could have watched her son a little more carefully, but ask yourself, how many times have you been a monitor 24/7/365 every where and any where you took your child, your nephew, your niece, your little cousin, and the list can go on?

One of the many issues with this is that the issue is strictly between the mother, the child, the gorilla, and the Cincinnati Zoo. Meanwhile, social media has created this narrative around whether or not a mother loves her child because the child was filled with curiosity…as many children have been and continue to be. These types of problems can happen anywhere, in a zoo, in a mall, in a parking lot, in a park, wherever a parent can take their eyes off of their child for three minutes to check a text message.

Now, there’s this national debate around whether or not animal rights are more important than human rights, when in actuality; it should not be your concern. There are currently more than 325,000 signatures on a campaign on Change.org that reads:

“This beautiful gorilla lost his life because the boy’s parents did not keep a closer watch on the child. We the undersigned believe that the child would not have been able to enter the enclosure under proper parental supervision.” While that may be true, it’s not about you, and it has never been about any other people – at least to the mother – except for the well being of her child.

Imagine if that was your child. Imagine if you walked away for 2 seconds to buy a water and could see your child every step of the way, and when you turned your head for a millisecond, he was gone. What would you do? Would you care if the gorilla was dead, or would you care about your child and want everything in the world just to hug him or her and tell them that you love him or her.

I see so many issues with the way that our society and social media handles these conflicts because it epitomizes what it means to be a slacktivist (a “social media activist”, if you didn’t know what that meant.)

It’s alarming that an issue like this has created nationwide buzz, and that people are trying to place criminal charges on the boy’s parents. She made her statement, she decided to tell her side of the story and she decided to be honest with herself and the world via social media, and that is all that we can even ask for right now.

Because, let’s bring one more fictitious argument into this. What if the boy’s parents go to jail over criminal charges over the gorilla’s death? Now, a boy has been physically hurt, and emotionally because his parents are out of his life. Let’s just continue to think about all the lives that were endangered here, and not just that of the gorilla.


(Photo Credit: Wiki Commons)