Let’s Be Real- My Kid Could Totally Fall in a Gorilla Enclosure

The following is my personal opinion. 

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the horribly sad death of the gorilla, Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo this past weekend.

Yes, it’s horrible. Yes, it’s sad. I’m heartbroken thinking that this beautiful, already endangered animal had to die due to the preventable actions of others. Did the gorilla have to die? Maybe not. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to talk about how awful everyone being to this poor boy’s Mother. Yes, I’m talking to all of you sitting in your bathrobes, hiding behind a keyboard, attacking the parenting of a woman you don’t know and who’s identity has not been revealed (thank goodness).

I’ll admit, I had the same thought as everyone else when I first heard the news. “If they had just been watching their son this wouldn’t have happened!” 

That was my first thought. Sure. That’s true. But look me in the eyes and tell me you’ve never taken you’re eyes off of your child for a few seconds.

You probably can’t.

Because none of us are the perfect Mother or Father. We all do it. No one can keep an eye on their child 100% of the time. Maybe she got a text message, looked down to read it, and when she looked up he was gone. Is reading a text a huge parenting no-no? And yes, I’m aware that it took him some time to climb into the enclosure. But we don’t know the circumstances here. She could have been distracted by her other children, if any, and not noticed he was missing for a few minutes.  She could have been having a simple conversation with someone. We don’t know the circumstances of this situation because the family isn’t issuing further statements, and they don’t have to. And just because we don’t know the whole story, doesn’t mean we get to speculate.

The other day, Kurtis and I turned our heads for one second and Sawyer fell off the bed (he’s fine). All it takes is one second for something awful to happen and you’re crazy if you think “that will never happen to me.”

It could. It can. It might.

I get where everyone is coming from but she’s human. She took her eyes off her kid for a minute and something awful happened. Yes, of course she should have been watching him but toddlers are fast, they are gone in an instant. She’s human. In any other circumstance no one would be blaming her. People lose their kids all the time. At malls, at airports, at theme parks. No one attacks their parenting and calls them negligent. Because it happens. It’s life. This one happened to be at a zoo, and unfortunately, ended in tragedy. It’s awful that the gorilla had to die but we don’t need to attack the parenting of someone we don’t know. How did a 4 year old get in there? Shouldn’t we be questioning the zoo’s enclosures and barriers and how safe they really are? If a 4 year old can get in, they probably need to reevaluate.

This is a horrible tragedy, and we are right to mourn the death of a beautiful animal. Should these parents have been watching their child? Yes. Absolutely. But they are human, as we all are. All it takes is a second for things to go horribly wrong. And we cannot blame these people for making a human error. We all make human errors every day. None of us are perfect. We also cannot blame them for the death of this animal. Shooting Harambe was the decision of the Zoo’s Dangerous Animal Response Team. And they are confident in their decision and say they would make the same decision if they had to do it over again.

As fellow humans, and especially as fellow parents, let’s show some grace, and cut this poor woman a break. She’s been through enough already by almost losing her son this weekend.

While at the zoo, I am confident enough that the enclosure barriers are tall enough, safe enough, strong enough, etc. that we are not able to breach them. Now I know that I was wrong, and that they can be breached by someone as young as 4 years old. Now that I know this, I will be taking extra precautions while at the zoo with my family, and keep an extra eye on Sawyer once he starts walking. Let’s all learn from this horrible experience and move forward attempting to keep our children, and the animals safer.

Mama guilt is bad enough without the whole country screaming your faults at you. Let’s show grace.


2 thoughts on “Let’s Be Real- My Kid Could Totally Fall in a Gorilla Enclosure

  1. well said. a voice of reason amidst the melee of haters. kids are fast, wriggly little critters at times, blink and they can be gone.

    this was an awful incident, with a heart breaking conclusion. and it would’ve been worse if the child had been hurt. thankfully he wasn’t and credit for that must be given to the zoo staff who will have had to go through emotional turmoil having kill an animal that they knew and loved.

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