Cincinnati Zoo caretaker devastated by death of the gorilla he raised as a child

Cincinnati Zoo shot and killed the 17-year-old Harambe after the boy fell into a moat inside gorilla exhibit

Caretaker of slain Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla is left devastated as Harambe was shot dead after a four-year-old boy crawled through a railing barrier and fell 10ft into the gorilla exhibit’s moat before he was dragged by the endangered Silverback for 10 minutes.

Jerry Stones, who took care of the male western lowland gorilla since birth, said he burst into tears upon discovering the animal was killed Saturday after it grabbed and dragged around a four-year-old boy who had fallen into its enclosure. “I admit. I’m a 74-year-old man and it tore me up inside,” he told. “These are like your children. You’re with them all the time. You’re around them from the time they’re born.”

A Facebook page titled “Justice for Harambe’’ was created in tribute to the 17-year-old rare gorilla, and garnered more than 8,000 likes within hours.

Several thousand people also signed a petition that ripped zoo officials for killing the animal — and called for the child’s parents to be “held accountable for their actions of not supervising their child.’’

The Cincinnati Zoo was packed with visitors this holiday weekend when a 4-year-old boy crawled through a railing and fell into a moat in a gorilla habitat.

The 4-year-old boy was with his mother and several other children Saturday afternoon when he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla exhibit, a drop of about 10 feet to 12 feet, and was briefly dragged through water by Harambe, witnesses said.

The boy, who was hurt but not severely, was taken to a hospital, zoo officials said.

“It was pure panic,” said Brittany Nicely, 29, who was there with her two children. Ms. Nicely said that out of the corner of her eye she spotted the boy on the wrong side of wooden and wire barriers along the edge of the enclosure. She reached for him, she said, but not in time, and he fell about 10 feet into a shallow moat.

Zoo director Thame Maynard blamed Harambe for failing to obey orders to leave the open enclosure, saying his actions forced the zoo to shoot him to death.


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