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Online petition calls for Cincinnati Zoo to close exhibit, send gorillas to a sanctuary

Four days after the incident, the controversy continues to swirl.


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Jun 1, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 4:35 pm CDT

In the first 24 hours after Cincinnati Zoo workers killed a gorilla in order to save the 4-year-old boy who fell into his enclosure, a petition demanding the child’s parents be held accountable garnered more than 140,000 signatures.

More than 465,000 people overall have signed the petition in the days since Harambe‘s death, and perhaps that success has spurred another online petition. This one on the Care2 website calls for the Cincinnati Zoo to send its remaining gorillas to a sanctuary and to close the gorilla exhibit “for the safety of the public and the animals.”

At the time of publication, nearly 80,000 people had signed the petition

As the author, going by the name Stop the slaughter, wrote:

“Gorillas are endangered animals, but zoos do not breed them to be released to the wild. Their role is minimal to none in conservation and education. Zoos are entertainment facilities where mainly parents go to entertain their kids for an hour or two. 

“A wild animal that may pose a threat to the public should not be held captive in a zoo where incidents like this can happen. Zoos are made for viewing pleasure and if a curious visitor is determined to get past security measures, they can. As in this case, not only did the parent and boy put his own life in danger, but their actions killed an endangered captive Gorilla.”

The controversy surrounding the parent’s actions, the zoo’s decision, and the 17-year-old gorilla’s death has sparked massive online outcry since Saturday’s incident. 

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he didn’t think the zoo had a choice before shooting Harambe, while famed primatologist Jane Goodall wrote a personal email to the zoo’s director, expressing her sympathy and wondering if the gorilla was actually trying to protect the boy instead of harm him. 

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*First Published: Jun 1, 2016, 11:07 pm CDT