Parents take a child to the zoo, (not such an unusual occurrence) the child aged four, ends up in the gorilla enclosure, (somehow he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure) the parents of the child are almost universally demonized, in a frenzy of comments in the media and social media, especially by animal rights supporters. The witch hunt has well and truly began.
The Mother tries to defend herself, “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen […],” Gregg wrote, as cited by several media outlets”.
It’s true that as a parent it is impossible to watch your child all the time. Maybe as a parent I am over-cautious and protective. Take your eye of a child and they could be doing anything, drinking some toxic liquid, running out into the road, picking a poisonous mushroom…all is possible. There are so many appalling potential scenarios, we just hope that no such things happen to our child.
I don’t really like at all the idea of zoos, however I have taken my son on quite a few occasions. I have never been concerned for my son’s safety in terms of some unlikely encounter with a wild animal, I have been more concerned he could be snatched by some weirdo, or child predator. Of course if I saw my son doing anything dangerous around an animal enclosure, I hope I would react quickly and decisively.
What can you do to make a young child safer? Teaching and trying to instill common sense, seems a good idea. For example as parents we have already tried to instill road safety into our three year old. We try to teach him to look out for cars and look both directions before crossing the road. Of course he has no notions of the dangers of a speeding car, but educating a child about potential hazards, should be a part of parenting.
I wonder how much of a percentage of people condemning the parents are parents themselves? Some are saying the parents should be held accountable.
An eye witness’ account of the event is less damning. Deidre Lykins viewed the drama unfold, and the boy dropping into the enclosure. Her account is that she saw the mother calling out for her son and was next to him when he disappeared. She claims the mother is not at fault, and went as far as to write on Facebook: ‘This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation! ‘This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!’
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the zoo should have had a second barrier around the exhibit adding “Even under the ‘best’ circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it’s even deadly,” PETA said. Obviously if a four year old can enter an enclosure the fencing must have been far from sufficient. The zoo however claimed the exhibit opened nearly 40 years ago, and this was the first breach.
In a rather contradictory statement another eye witness said the small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which his mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not,’
The zoo issued a statement “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”
Added to story is the fact that the father (of four) has a long criminal record, with offenses such as burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap. It obviously does not take much time to dig up somebody’s shady past.
The fact of the matter is…that a beautiful animal, the innocent party in this saga, the Gorilla named Harambe, lost its life, through no fault of its own. If the child had died, there would have been a different kind of outrage.
Meanwhile in Japan a boy of seven was punished by his parents (his crime throwing stones at cars) by leaving him in an area populated by brown bears (renowned for being particularly aggressive). The parents had to change their story to the police, at first they didn’t dare tell the truth of their utter stupidity. .
Both sets of parents will be forever haunted by what has happened. The eyes of the world are focused on their negligence.
The negligence of Kate and Gerry McCann is still to this day being called into question. While on holiday in Portugal, they went to dinner, leaving their children unattended. Their daughter Madeline was abducted (although there are other versions) . Whatever happened that night is still a mystery but the McCanns have had untold criticism for leaving their children alone, from all manner of different people, including celebrities. Their guilt must be unbearable. A parent’s worst nightmare.