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Cincinnati Zoo Reopens Gorilla Exhibit With Higher Fence After Boy's Controversial Fall


Cincinnati Zoo Reopens Gorilla Exhibit With Higher Fence After Boy's Controversial Fall (Cincinnati Zoo)

After their controversial decision to kill a gorilla after a boy managed to scramble into its enclosure, the Cincinnati Zoo has reopened the exhibit once occupied by the late silverback named Harambe.

“This has been a difficult and emotional time for everyone at the Zoo, especially Harambe’s caretakers.  We’ve never been through anything like this, and the experience has been surreal,” Zoo Director Thane Maynard said in a statement. "I see today’s reopening as the symbolic start of a healing process for our staff, our members and the Cincinnati community."

Read: Zoo Shoots Gorilla to Protect Boy Who Fell Into Enclosure

In response to criticism of possible security failures that allowed the boy to get past safeguards and fall into the habitat on May 28, the zoo has added six inches to the height of the public barrier, with knotted rope netting and surveillance cameras. 

The new barrier railing is 42” high with solid wood beams at the top and on the bottom.

"The exhibit was safe, but, in light of what happened, we made modifications to reassure our visitors and the public," Maynard said.

Read: Mom of Boy Who Fell Into Gorilla Enclosure: I Watch My Kids, Accidents Happen

Zoo officials made the decision to fatally shoot Harambe, who was “extremely strong,” after they determined the child’s life was in danger, Maynard said in a statement.

They decided not to use a tranquilizer because it may have taken too long to work, Maynard said.

Outraged animal lovers took to social media to bash the zoo and the family of the boy, saying the western lowland gorilla’s life was unnecessarily taken.

Watch: Kids Have Fallen Into Gorilla Enclosures Before, But With Happy Endings