Kids Have Fallen Into Gorilla Enclosures Before, But With Happy Endings
Before the Cincinnati Zoo tragedy involving a little boy and a giant gorilla, there have been other, similar encounters that ended without the primate being shot to death.
In 1986, a 5-year-old British boy named Levan Merritt fell 12 feet onto a concrete strip in the gorilla enclosure. Knocked unconscious, the boy lay motionless while gorillas lumbered toward him.
As a tourist filmed with his brand new video camera, a silverback gorilla named Jambo stood guard between the boy and other apes in the pen, and at one point, stroked the boy's back as if to soothe him.
When Merritt came to and began to cry, the gorillas, including Jambo, back off. Rescuers were able to climb down with a rope and pull the boy to safety.
This weekend, after the 4-year-old fell into the Ohio zoo enclosure, a silverback gorilla named Harambe was shot dead by zookeepers who said they feared a tranquilizer gun would not have taken effect fast enough to protect the boy.
In 1996, a 3-year-old boy tumbled more than 20 feet into the gorilla exhibit at the Brookfield Zoo outside Chicago.
A female gorilla named Binti picked up the child — who also had been knocked unconscious — and carried the boy to a rock, where she sat cradling him in her arms.
She then placed him near the cage's door and stepped back as zookeepers picked up the child.
They were two very different outcomes from what happened in Ohio last week.