Harambe (1999-2016) is a gorilla who was killed in the US on May 28th 2016 to save a three-year-old boy who had fallen into the gorilla pen at the Cincinnati Zoo. The shooting has led to protests and even an online petition with over 500,000 supporters. The boy was Black, most of the outraged seem to be White.
The boy got through the railing (not hard at all) and the bushes and fell 3 metres into the water. Harambe went to get him and seemed to be protecting him, even held his hand, but did not know what to make of the screaming onlookers.
Harambe was being too rough with him: young humans are more delicate than young gorillas. Harambe is six times stronger than a man and could have hurt or killed the boy without meaning to. So the zoo keeper had Harambe shot dead (a tranquilizer to make him fall asleep would have been too slow).
The boy got scraped up and was hit on the head, but nothing serious. He is fine now.
Tragedy: It is a tragedy that Harambe had to be killed, but it prevented the greater tragedy of the boy being killed.
Outrage: The shooting led to outrage not against the zoo keeper but the boy’s mother! For example on Twitter @blxxm83 wrote:
“So lazy parents can’t control their wild kids and a beautiful endangered animal gets shot and killed because of it? #Harambe #RIPHarambe”
That comes straight out of a stereotype about Black women.
Fox News, meanwhile, brought up the father’s police record from ten years ago – and he was not even at the zoo!
The “Justice for Harambe” petition on Change.org, which got over 300,000 supporters in just four days, wanted to pin the killing on the mother. (Meanwhile, after two years, the “Justice for Eric Garner” petition to get Daniel Pantaleo fired has only 171,112 supporters.)
The police investigated the mother, but the county prosecutor decided against charging her with a crime.
Harambe, named after a Rita Marley song, was born in the US in a zoo in Brownsville, Texas. He lived his whole life in zoos (animal prison). They brought him to Cincinnati in 2014 in hopes he would become a father. When he died, they took some of his sperm.
Harambe was a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), the kind most people picture when they think of a gorilla. There are 500 in zoos worldwide and maybe like 100,000 in the rain forests along the equator in Africa, particularly in Gabon and nearby countries. Older males, whose hair turns grey, are called silverbacks. The common ancestor of humans and gorillas lived 8 million years ago. Only chimpanzees and bonobos are more closely related to humans.
“Critically endangered”: Western lowland gorillas are in danger of dying out. Their numbers have dropped by more than half in the past 25 years, from Ebola and hunting by humans (for meat, medicine and magical charms), and from parts of their homeland being taken over by logging and mining (for coltan in mobile phones).
– Abagond, 2016.
- Also Cincinnati:
- Eric Garner
- Fox News
- human zoos
- human evolution: the last 4 billion years