Why Killing Harambe Had To Be Done

A Young Boys Life Was At Stake

If you ever want to start a fight, or just have a lively discussion, bring up the subject of animal rights.

I should admit I love animals. I’ve had multiple dogs and cats, and it always causes pain when it’s time to say goodbye. It’s easy to fall in love with critters.

So I guess it’s natural that public sympathy would be on the side of the side of Harambe, the 450-pound gorilla shot and killed over the weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 4-year-old boy somehow got into the animal’s enclosure.

It was a heartbreaking end to a sad saga, but it could have been worse. Much worse. The 4-year-old boy could have died, and then what would the story be?

A 3

I’m sorry, animal lovers, but it was a choice between the life of a gorilla or that of a young boy.  I think even the most ardent animal lover can make that distinction.

It’s not like they had a lot of time to debate the issue, either. Tranquilizers would have taken too long and sending more people into the enclosure to rescue the boy was out of the question. That would have agitated the gorilla and put the boy in greater danger.

But we have to blame somebody, so hundreds of thousands have gone after the boy’s mother. Many signed an online petition calling for charges of child neglect to be brought against her.

a 6

That’s the way the court of social media works, though. You take a story like this, let emotion overwhelm logic, reach a rash conclusion, and then set out to ruin someone’s life. In this case, that means making the mother out to be the face of bad parenting, even when people don’t know her, will never meet her, and can’t say for sure how all this happened.

My guess is that many of those people ganging up on that mother have kids of their own, and that more than once they’ve looked around and wondered where their little darling had run off to.

You can say “no” to a 4-year-old until your voice gets hoarse and most of the time it doesn’t do any good. Impulse control isn’t finely honed at such a young age, and all it takes is being distracted for a moment and a fun outing can turn terrifying.

A 2

But like I said, there is no such thing as empathy and understanding when it comes to social media.

The lure of a keyboard, a computer mouse and a forum to shake a figurative fist is too much for many to resist. When you throw in a sympathetic figure like Harambe, who certainly didn’t invite the 4-year-old into his space, this is what you get.

If you want to argue against putting gorillas and other animals in captivity so people can pay money and gawk at them, that could be a useful discussion. But to focus on the issue at hand, I don’t think zoo officials had any choice except the one they made.

For me, it’s enough to know the boy is safe. I don’t know why we can’t let it go at that.

The video used in this story came courtesy of Newsy.  

After nearly 42 years as both a sports and news columnist, along with a variety of other roles, at the Tampa Tribune, Joe Henderson brings his slant on politics and sports to NewsTalkFlorida.com and SportsTalkFlorida.com. Originally from the small town of Lebanon, Ohio, Joe resides outside of Tampa with Elaine, his wife of more than 35 years. Their two grown sons stop by when there is time, and their faithful Watch Cat, Sassy is always on guard.