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Real Life

Mum defends Cincinnati Zoo incident

The mother of the little boy who slipped into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo on Saturday – which led to the animal being shot dead – has addressed her critics.

By Chloe Lal
Following the dramatic turn of events, many voiced the parents should be charged with child endangerment.
And now the mother of the boy, Michelle Gregg, has broken her silence taking to Facebook with an impassioned post which has since been deleted.
"God protected my child until the authorities were able to get to him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes... no broken bones or internal injuries,” she penned.
"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," she continued.
You can read it in full below. Post continues...
It has since been revealed that the 32-year-old, has four children with the boy’s father, 36-year-old Deonne Dickerson [pictured above], who is a convicted criminal.
His rap sheet is riddled with offences including burglary, firearms offences, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap.
People across the globe took to Twitter to slam Michelle, claiming that she was personally responsible for the death of Harambe, the 17-year-old, 204-kilogram male Western Lowland gorilla.
Watch the shocking footage of Harambe with Michelle's son. Post continues...
One user quipped, “Am SICK&TIRED of LAZY people who do not WATCH THEIR CHILDREN. RIP #Harambe you did not deserve to die. @CincinnatiZoo I am sorry 4 u also.”
While comedian and animal lover Ricky Gervais simply said, “It seems that some gorillas make better parents than some people.”
In fact, animal activists believe criminal charges need to be brought in and have started an online petition called Justice for Harambe.
The scenes from the day shocked the world.
If it reaches 150,000 signatures, it will be sent to the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services and Cincinnati Police Department to encourage action against Michelle.
Standing by their actions, Cincinnati Zoo released a statement from park director Thane Maynard saying, "We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child's life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made by our Dangerous Animal Response Team."
Explaining the decision behind the elimination of tranquilizing as an option, Mark said, “tranquilizers do not take effect for several minutes and the child was in imminent danger. On top of that, the impact from the dart could agitate the animal and cause the situation to get much worse."
Harambe just turned 17.
While the zoo believe the gorilla was violently dragging and throwing the little boy, onlookers on the day, and people who have viewed footage of the scene think something else was at play – that Harambe was protecting the child.
"The little boy, once he fell, I don't think the gorilla even knew that he was in there until he heard him splashing in the water," onlooker Brittany Nicely told ABC News.
"The gorilla rushed the boy, but did not hit the boy. He almost was guarding the boy, was protecting him... The gorilla was not, in my eyes being harmful."
Meanwhile, Australian vet Dr Chris Brown has also weighed in on the matter.
"Western lowland gorillas like Harambe are classified as critically endangered in the wild and behaviourally are renowned for being relatively placid, unless provoked. So were other non-lethal measures an option? For starters, the zoo staff were placed in an awful situation. And probably acted on an existing protocol. But what else could have been done," he said. This is not the first time that a child has fallen into a gorilla enclosure. Watch the incredible moment from 1996 when a female gorilla saved a child. Post continues...
However, another witness from the zoo recounts the scenario differently.
Deirdre Lykins was at the enclosure with her family. In detailed Facebook post, which you can read in full below, she describes how the child wandered away within seconds, “flopped” over a fence and then crawled into the gorilla enclosure, eventually falling down into the moat.
“The gorilla did just seem to be protective of the child. It wasn’t until the gorilla became agitated because of the nosey, dramatic, helpless crowd; that the gorilla violently ran with the child!”
Deidre was at the zoo during the horrific accident. You can read her full account at the end of the article.
Continuing, she wrote, “And it was very violent; although I think the gorilla was still trying to protect, we’re taking a 400 lb gorilla throwing a 40 lb toddler around! It was horrific! The zoo responded very quickly, clearing the area and attempting to save both the child and the gorilla!”
“The right choice was made.”
Despite the unrelenting negative backlash from the tragic occurrence, others in the zoo community have defended Cincinnati for their decision.
Post continues after the video...
Jack Hanna, the director emeritus of Ohio's Columbus Zoo, told Good Morning America, "I can tell you now, that there's no doubt in my mind the child would not be here today if they hadn't made that call.”
“So what is the decision? I think it's very simple to figure that out."
Harambe celebrated his 17th birthday on May 27, and was raised from birth by zookeeper Jerry Stones at the Gladys Porter Zoo.
“He was a special guy in my life. Harambe was my heart. It’s like losing a member of the family.”
But Jerry told New York Daily News that he did not second guess the Cincinnati Zoo’s decision to shoot Harambe.
“I raised him from a baby, he was a sweet cute little guy.”
“He grew up to be a pretty, beautiful male. He was very intelligent. Very, very intelligent. His mind was going constantly. He was just such a sharp character.”

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