My two cents worth.

It seems as though everybody has had something to say about the incident at the Cincinnati zoo, so I might as well add my two cents worth. There was only one winner in that sad situation: the little boy is okay. I can just imagine the vitriol that would have been handed out to the zoo and the parents if the gorilla had lost control and killed the lad. It’s incredibly sad that the gorilla died; especially considering how endangered his species is. And, the sadness was heightened when we learned that the zoo had just celebrated his 17th birthday, the week before. This was a well-loved animal. I could weigh up the pros and cons of the zoo’s decision to kill him. Should they have tried to tranquillize him? Should a zoo keeper have tried to intervene? Could they have lured him away with treats? The thing is, unlike everyone else on the internet, I’m not an expert on gorillas. I don’t know everything there is to know about interacting with them, or caring for them. I do know that just because the animal is in the zoo, it doesn’t mean it’s a cuddly teddy bear; it’s still a wild animal. The zoo knew enough about gorillas to decide that the child was in danger and they had to act quickly. I don’t envy them. I’m sure that many of the keepers there were in tears at the time and are now sad and angry that they were forced into that situation. I could climb on the “punish the parents” bandwagon but I won’t. And, before you start heating the barrel of tar and collecting the feathers, please give this statement – uttered by a wiser man than me – a bit of thought: Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. I’ve had two little kids and I’m surprised they both survived past their fifth birthday. Let me just say: hindsight is a marvellous thing. Should they have used a leash? (I tried it with my son. He lay on the floor and refused to move. Other than me dragging him along the ground like a tonka toy, the leash just wasn’t going to happen.) Should they have kept a better watch on him? Sure. But, haven’t we all had moments that we wish we could do over? Don’t tell me that mother isn’t having nightmares about it, reliving the moment and wishing she had done something differently. I wonder whether the zoo should take another look at the height of the barriers and see if they can make it that much more difficult for a child – or a stupid/inebriated adult – to get inside the enclosures. I’m sure they’re already doing that. I could join the crusade against zoos in general, but I won’t. I’m still undecided about that issue. I agree that there are some horrendous zoos in existence but I’m also aware that many zoos are wonderful facilities that educate us about these creatures, do a lot of wonderful conservation work – even to the extent of helping re-establish colonies of various species back into the wild – and in which there is a wonderful bond between the animals and their keepers. I’m sad that the gorilla died. I’m sad that the child’s parents learned an important lesson in a very hard way. I’m sad that many species are nearly extinct in the wild because of our species, who want to kill them for their hides, or their heads, or their penises, or their bile, or their horns, or just so they can say they did. I’m also sad that the internet has become a place where people can vent their bile on others from the safety of their own homes. They can make someone else’s life a nightmare because, they’re just not good enough; they aren’t perfect parents; they sometimes behave like the teenagers that they are; they’re not a size 8; they’ve got acne; they’re black or Asian or white, or green; they’re Christian; they’re Muslim; they’re Buddhists; they’re atheists; they vote for Trump… actually, I’m struggling with that one. In other words, we think it’s okay to chuck bucket-loads of condemnation on other people who aren’t as perfect as we are. So, now, I brace myself for the onslaught. I wonder how long it’ll be before someone is braying for my blood for actually being happy that the little kid lived, while still being sad that the gorilla didn’t....

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