The killing of a 17-year-old western lowland gorilla named Harambe at a zoo in the US city of Cincinnati after a four-year-old boy climbed into its enclosure has triggered outrage on social media.
Many said the male gorilla should not have been shot dead as he did not intend to hurt the boy – some even using the hashtag #JusticeForHarambe.
Others said the parents should be held responsible for not looking after their child during Saturday's incident.
On Saturday, zoo officials shot dead the 400lb (180kg) gorilla after he allegedly grabbed and dragged the boy. Zoo director Thane Maynard said that although the boy was not under attack, he "certainly was at risk".
Twitter user StrayanRepublic, wrote: "#HARAMBE wasn't dragging him to kill him... he was protecting the child from the threat of screaming tourists. @Xoxjlove @CincinnatiZoo."
Kenz, another user, posted this message: "#JusticeForHarambe its so sad that an endangered animal had to be put down because of careless parenting."
Meanwhile, Andrue wrote: "Why don't zoos have instant acting tranquilizer? First those 2 lions now Harambe #JusticeForHarambe."
He was referring to last week's incident when two lions were shot dead in a zoo in Santiago, Chile after a suicidal man entered their pen. [Note: The shooting of the lions brought criticisms from activists. Zoo officials said no fast-activating tranquillizers were available].
More than sixty thousand people have signed a petition, calling for the boy's parents to "be held accountable for the lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life".
Was it right to take a life on somebody's assumption that the situation had become “life-threatening”? Did Harambe showed aggression in the first place?
Courtesy WLWT News Cincinnati
In fact, it was said that the gorilla approached the boy, pulled him though the water and then stood next to him in a manner that some observers believed was protective.
And zoo officials took the simple and convenient way out by killing the animal – supposedly to ensure the boy’s safety.
In a similar incident on August 31, 1986 on the island of Jersey (a Crown dependency of the UK), a five-year-old boy named Levan Merritt had fallen into a gorilla enclosure at the Durrell Wildlife Park (formerly Jersey Zoo). He lost consciousness and a silverback male called Jambo famously stood guard over him, protecting him from other gorillas and stroking his back as if out of concern. The boy was rescued, the animal was celebrated as a “gentle giant” and a statue was later erected in his memory.
I say both the negligent parents and zoo official who ordered the shooting should be charged. Stop trying to justify murder!