In May 2016, a 17-year-old Western lowland Gorilla named Harambe was shot and killed by Cincinnati Zoo staff after a young boy climbed into his enclosure.
Since his tragic death, officials have been carrying out investigations into what happened on the day.
This week new information about the gorillas death has been released, suggesting that his enclosure did not meet safety standards and the events of the day could have been prevented.
USDA inspectors have revealed that the barrier that was meant to separate the visitors and the gorillas wasn’t in compliance with federal standards.
“It became apparent on May 28 that the barrier was no longer effective,” Tanya Espinosa, USDA spokeswoman said.
The report explained that there was “some slack” in the wire cables in the barrier and a visitor could have manipulated the cables to an 8-inch gap – a gap big enough for a small child to fit through.
The CEO of Born Free USA, Adam M. Roberts said he is not surprised by the substandard enclosure.
“The USDA is expected only to enforce minimum standards and with a limited number of inspectors and [considering] the might of the zoo industry it’s no surprise that things slip — with potentially deadly consequences for zoo animals and human visitors,” Roberts explained.
“What’s needed is a complete overhaul of the rules for licensed animal exhibitors, full dedication to the government’s inspection program and the immediate closure of any facilities that cannot pass muster.”
The investigations are still ongoing however one aspect the USDA report has concluded is that the decision to shoot and kill Harambe was the right thing to do.
When the little boy went under the railing on May 28, the female gorillas were called out of the pit, but Harambe stayed inside.
The male gorillas then pulled the boy along the shallow moat, stood him up and appeared to inspect his clothes.
Harambe was then shot and killed to prevent any further danger that the child was in.
The world mourned the death of the animal, with many disagreeing on whether or not Harambe was a threat to the boy.
Since the killing of Harambe, the zoo has erected a taller, nylon mesh fence around “Gorilla World.”
Because of illegal hunting, loss of habitat and climate change, Western lowland gorillas are seriously endangered – there is an estimated 100,000 left on Earth.
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