How the Harambe Situation Reflects the Way People View Nature

By Elizabeth Mullett

Nowadays people only see animals at zoos or aquariums and thinks they’re docile lazy animals that can be reasoned with. That however is not the case. This is of course evident when the whole Harambe tragedy went down. It all started when a child, who loves gorillas and wanted to see one up close, decided to go into the gorilla exhibit, he actually fell quite a ways down, and was then grabbed by a male gorilla named Harambe. Harambe continued to have possession of the child during the whole scary endeavor. Harambe was eventually shot and killed in order to retrieve the boy. This caused mass hysteria. People were upset over the fact that they killed Harambe instead of simply tranquilizing him.  In the article called “The real tragedy about the shooting of Harambe the gorilla” the author, Robert Young who is a Professor of  Wildlife Conservation at the University of Salford, starts off by saying, “A gorilla at Cincinnati Zoo has been shot dead after a boy fell into his enclosure. When I told my wife, a former vice director of a zoo, she first asked if the boy was okay and then said how terrible for the keeper who shot the gorilla.” He goes on to say, “I hadn’t thought about it from the perspective of the zoo keeper who pulled the trigger. But my wife is right: it must have been a terrible thing for that person, something that may haunt them for the rest of their life.” He then talks about how this whole situation reminded him of the famous novel “Of Mice and Men” when Lennie accidentally killed a woman and his friend George decided to kill him in order to protect him from the group of angry people who didn’t understand that it was an accident. He goes on to point out that, “Captive gorillas are trained by their keepers to go to their indoor enclosure on command, but in such an emotionally-charged situation this training does not always work… The two female gorillas responded to the calls of their keepers to go inside, but Harambe did not.” He then talks about why the use of a tranquilizer wouldn’t have been the best option, “It takes several minutes for tranquilisers to send a large animal to sleep… Plus once an animal is very agitated and has massive amounts of adrenaline flowing through its veins the tranquilising drug may be ineffective. It would be hard to judge the correct dose – too little could result in no effect and too much could result in killing the animal through an overdose. Basically, the zoo is now in a lose-lose situation.” This proves how people like to romanticize the whole idea that animals can be reasoned with or that they feel the same way we do. The gorilla had been trained but refused to go indoors so they had to take matters into their own hands. Tranquilizing would take time, time they didn’t have, or it could even kill Harambe if he was given too much. Either way what happened to Harambe was a tragedy and no laughing  matter.



2 thoughts on “How the Harambe Situation Reflects the Way People View Nature

  1. I think if you eat meat you shouldn’t be upset by the death of Harambe. There is no difference between what happened to your hamburger and what happened to the gorilla. Humans decided to enclose a dangerous animal and put the animal and other humans in a situation where either could be killed. People always say zoos help preserve biodiversity, but by taking out of them out of their natural environment? That doesn’t help at all, zoos are just for our amusement and for profit. If you really wanted to preserve biodiversity you would leave the animals where they are and protect their natural habitat. Keeping animals in cages and giving them lettuce everyday isn’t natural and isn’t saving the that specie’s population if it isn’t living where it belongs. Almost every zoo in the United States has a gorilla exhibit, but where in North America can you find a wild gorilla? If you’re still paying to go to the zoo and eating your fried chicken you shouldn’t be upset about his death, it was inevitable and at that point doesn’t really even effect the natural global gorilla population.

    Katie McNulty


  2. I personally feel like a tranquilizer would have sufficed, but I’m not an expert. Forgoing that option and opting to kill him seemed to me as a safe guard more for zoo protection because if you think about it, what option would they have had if they had saved the child in time and had to go to court over it? Surely the judge would’ve ruled he be put down, and the zoo would’ve been sued, even though it was entirely the child’s lack of parental care that was to blame.
    I don’t think any of the employees wanted Harambe to be killed so I doubt they felt as though they had another choice. I agree with the comment above mine as well. I don’t feel like if people protesting and outraged over this incident are eating me that they have a soapbox to stand on. Choosing which animals are important is just wrong in my opinion. Especially when farm animals are brutally murdered by the millions because people don’t want to switch their dietary preferences.


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