As I was celebrating my 31st birthday, social media was going into a meltdown about the death of Harambe, a Western Lowland Gorilla, at Cincinnati Zoo. As someone who is passionate about primate conservation, this news deeply saddened me. The controversial decision to kill Harambe for the sake of the safety of a four year old boy has caused many different responses. Regardless of the outcome, this could have been prevented, 1. the zoo should have a more considered observation platform, one that does not allow for anyone falling, or – like in this case – someone breaching the barriers, 2. the parent(s) of the little boy should have been watching their son – this is a busy zoo, having a four-year old myself, I would not of allowed him to stray from my side, his hand in mine. This is particularly important as the little boy was heard telling his mother that he wished to go into the enclosure.
I read a statement that Cincinnati Zoo had never had an incident like this in the last 36 years. However, I have heard, in the news, numerous reports of children (mostly) falling or climbing into enclosures of dangerous animals in zoos all over the USA. If I was in charge of health and safety within a zoo setting, it would be my utmost priority to ensure that the enclosures were designed to be safe for both the animals and for the visitors. If a child can climb through the barriers, then that should not be health and safety compliant.
I wanted to do something special for Harambe, and for other Gorillas. I’ve set up a Just Giving page to help raise money for The Gorilla Organization, and as an added bonus I will select one of the lovely people who have donated to receive this original piece of artwork for themselves. To be in with a chance to have this illustration please donate as little as £2. We can’t bring Harambe back, but we can use his death as a way to raise awareness to these beautiful yet critically endangered species, and the importance of keeping them safe.